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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

National Criminal Justice Association Meeting
December 9, 2009
Washington, DC

       Thank you. It's nice to see everyone again.

       It's been almost a year since I appeared before you during the transition. At the time, I had no intention of returning to OJP. I heard your concerns then and appreciated your candor. I hope for your candor again today.

       I know one of NCJA's priorities is promoting evidence-based approaches, and I know you've cared about this for a long time. This is one of my priorities as well.

       As you know, President Obama and Attorney General Holder are committed to science. The President spoke of his commitment at the National Academy of Sciences in April. The Attorney General has also expressed his commitment to restoring the role of science time and again.

       Evidence-based approaches and the role of science are near and dear to me as well, and have been for years. When I returned to OJP for what I thought would be a short stay, I articulated my goals for the agency. Restoring the role of science was one.

       We've launched an OJP-wide effort that we call the Evidence Integration Initiative. It has three goals:

  • First, to improve the quantity and quality of evidence that we generate through our research, evaluation, and statistical functions.
  • Second, to better integrate evidence into program and policy decisions.
  • And third, to improve the translation of evidence into practice.

       Phelan Wyrick of my staff will talk in greater depth about this, but I did want to mention that we'll have a What Works and What's Promising Clearinghouse, and we hope to create a diagnostic center to provide direct support to jurisdictions as they apply these approaches. And I want to involve you all in this.

       Another thing I value tremendously is the role of the states and the State Administering Agencies in planning, which I underscored to you last year. I have a deep appreciation for the role of states. My ties go back to my involvement in an LEAA grant in the 70s.

       The role of states and of the SAAs is vital. I believe it should be to encourage and to drive comprehensive planning. This Administration recognizes and honors that role and values partnerships with state agencies. And I feel strongly that states should be active planners. In fact, SAAs used to be called SPAs, which meant state planning agencies. That was your original role vis a vis the Safe Streets Act. State agencies were always meant to be paramount in planning.

       State agencies should also play a convening role. They should be knocking heads together and crafting comprehensive plans. That had never happened before; unfortunately and sadly, it's not happening now in some places.

       I hope together we can encourage this comprehensive planning again so that it becomes a standard across the country, especially in these tough fiscal times, when every dollar counts. That's why - getting back to my earlier point - evidence-based programs and approaches are so important.

       States are our testing labs. You are fostering the innovation which we then evaluate and get out to others nationally. Our technical assistance grant to NCJA is part of our commitment to furthering this innovation and renewing the states' leadership role in comprehensive strategic planning. It's proof that change is already taking place at the Department.

       I want to thank NCJA for being our steadfast partner, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with the SAAs.

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