Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)
Westat presents this application to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) to serve as data collection agent for the 2024-2027 Annual Survey of Jails in Indian Country (SJIC). The purpose of the SJIC is to collect data to describe changes in the inmate population of jails in Indian Country and how these facilities are staffed and operated. In addition to fielding the survey, Westat will work with BJS to explore enhancements to the survey, cognitively test revised and new questions, and field an addendum on a topic mutually agreed to by BJS. Westat will collaborate with BJS to complete the 12 annual tasks and 4 one-time tasks associated with the project over the 4.5-year period.
Westat has acted as the SJIC data collection agent since 2007 and brings extensive experience working within Indian Country to this project. The Westat team understands the unique issues and challenges of data collection in Indian Country, as well as the importance of collecting and providing high-level, comprehensive, clean data to BJS. As evidenced through past SJIC data collection periods, Westat has demonstrated agility in responding to time-sensitive data collection needs and issues, as well as commitment to the collection and delivery of high-quality data. In the most recent collection, we implemented a web-based data collection system for respondents to submit their survey, as well as maintain the data in a web-based real-time tracking system accessible to internal staff and BJS. The web-based application has been well received and, as a result, all respondents provided their data through the web-based application in 2022 with a 93 percent response rate for eligible facilities.
Westat will continue building upon our strong working relationships with jail administrators, including our persistent, yet respectful and patient approach to conducting nonresponse follow-up and data validation. This aspect of data collection is critical to the development and maintenance of strong ties with the staff in Indian Country. As such, Westat intends to continue outreach with experts and key stakeholders in Indian Country on ways to enhance future data collections and provide direct value back to the facilities. Westat plans to build upon the web-based survey platform by designing a new data dissemination portal for survey respondents that will allow them to review trends in their data over multiple years, access resources, and potentially compare their data to that of other like facilities.