Data Quality Guidelines
Data Quality Guidelines
Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554) directs the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue government-wide guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by federal agencies.” The directive, which applies to the FBI in its administration of the UCR Program, stipulates that an agency that disseminates information to the public must provide “information quality guidelines that describe administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain, where appropriate, correction of disseminated information that does not comply with the OMB and agency guidelines” (Federal Register, Vol. 67, No. 36). This publication has been issued in response to that mandate.
Scope and Applicability
This document provides guidance to the staff of the FBI administering the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program and informs the public of the FBI’s policies and procedures for receiving, reviewing, and responding to requests for correction of disseminated UCR data.1 These guidelines are not a regulation. They are not legally enforceable and do not create any legal rights or impose any legally binding requirements or obligations on the FBI, the UCR Program, or the public.
Thewill correct information that does not meet its guidelines or those of the OMB based on the significance and impact of the correction. These guidelines apply only to UCR information disseminated by the FBI as defined in these guidelines. Nonstatistical information distributed by the on behalf of the UCR Program that is not addressed by these guidelines would still be subject to any applicable policies and correction procedures.
Submitting UCR data to the FBI is a collective effort on the part of city, county, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement agencies to present a nationwide view of crime. Participating agencies throughout the country voluntarily provide reports on crimes known to the police and on persons arrested. For the most part, agencies submit monthly crime reports, using uniform offense definitions, to a centralized repository within their state. The state UCR Program then forwards the data to the FBI’s national UCR Program.2 Agencies in states that do not have a state program submit their data directly to the FBI. After staff members review the information for accuracy and reasonableness, they enter the data into the national database. The FBI distributes the data presentations, special studies, and other publications compiled from the data to all who are interested in knowing about crime in the nation.
The national UCR Program is housed in the Operational Programs (OP) Branch of the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division. Within the OP Branch, three units—the Crime Statistics Management Unit (CSMU), the CJIS Audit Unit, and the Multimedia Productions Group (MPG)—are involved in the day-to-day administration of the program.
UCR Program Publications
The culmination of the national data collection effort is three annual publications: Crime in the United States, Hate Crime Statistics, and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. In addition to these publications, the FBI produces brochures (used for training and general information), preliminary reports (the Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report and the Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report), special reports (e.g., Killed in the Line of Duty: A Study of Selected Felonious Killings of Law Enforcement Officers  and In the Line of Fire: Violence Against Law Enforcement—A Study of Felonious Assaults on Law Enforcement Officers ), topical studies, and various training guides and user manuals.
The annual publication, Crime in the United States, is a detailed report of offense and arrest data, the number of law enforcement employees, and the results of special analyses of particular interest to law enforcement and the public. Hate Crime Statistics3 includes data on criminal offenses committed against persons, property, or society that are motivated, in whole or in part, by the offender’s bias against race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin. The annual publication Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted4 provides detailed information on local, state, and federal officers killed and assaulted in the line of duty, circumstances surrounding the incidents, type of assignments, weapons used, etc. The book also includes trend data for states and geographic regions. Once a year, the FBI publishes a press release that provides preliminary data on law enforcement officers feloniously and accidentally killed in the line of duty.
Note: The FBI makes available upon request the files from the national database that were used to create Crime in the United States, Hate Crime Statistics, and Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted. These files may be obtained by contacting the FBI’s MPG by telephone (304) 625-4995, facsimile (304) 625-5394, e-mail (<firstname.lastname@example.org>), or by writing to: Multimedia Productions Group, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Module D-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0157.
The topical studies produced by FBI staff are published in Crime in the United States or as monographs. These studies provide in-depth analysis of the data that address various aspects of crime. The Preliminary Semiannual Uniform Crime Report and Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report provide the percent change from the previous reporting period to the current one for population groups and geographical regions. These reports also present the number of crimes for city agencies with 100,000 or more resident population as provided by state and local agencies.
All of these reports have become sources of information widely used by police administrators, government policy makers, social science researchers, the media, and private citizens, to name only a few. In addition, UCR data are often used by the federal government in administering law enforcement grants.
Data on the Internet and Special Compilations
Although most UCR data users can find the statistics they need in the UCR Program’s various published reports (which are uploaded on the FBI’s Internet site at www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats), requesters requiring unpublished or unique data compilations may contact the FBI staff to obtain reports that are not provided in any of its publications. Staff members can create special compilations or extract data from the master files in the FBI’s database to fill the customer’s needs.
The FBI makes available upon request the following master files:
- Return A
- Supplement to Return A
- Supplementary Homicide Report
- Police Employee
- Age, Sex, and Race
- Hate Crime
- National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) Flat File
These files, which typically are provided in ASCII, require certain programming knowledge and computers with adequate memory to access them. The files can be imported into specialized statistical software for data extraction. These master files as well as the descriptions about the data contained in these files may be obtained by contacting the FBI’s MPG by telephone (304) 625-4995, facsimile (304) 625-5394, e-mail (<email@example.com>), or by writing to: Multimedia Productions Group, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Module D-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0157.
The data reports (both print and electronic media) that also are available from the UCR Program are based on the nature of frequent requests and also are sometimes created especially for a particular need; therefore, a comprehensive list of these reports is not available. However, data requesters may contact the FBI’s MPG for additional information about special data compilations.
Note: The data contained in data reports and the program’s master files may include updates and/or late submissions from participating agencies that are not reflected in the program’s various published reports; therefore, the figures in the two may not match. A discrepancy between published data and data contained in the master files does not necessarily indicate an error.
Standards for Disseminated Data
Basic Quality Standards
The FBI’s basic procedures for ensuring that UCR data are accurate are outlined in the following sections of this document:
- “The FBI’s Procedures for Data Quality” (which provides details about the FBI’s first series of checks of the crime data it receives).
- “Quality Assurance Review” (which provides details about the FBI’s periodic reviews of the agencies that participate in the UCR Program).
- “Training” (which furnishes information about the FBI’s UCR training program).
In addition to the initial data assessments and the audit and training provisions the FBI offers, the FBI reviews all of its UCR data for reasonableness before it disseminates them. FBI staff review all substantive information the FBI disseminates and endeavor to:
- Allow adequate time for reviews, consistent with the level of standards required for the type of information to be disseminated.
- Ensure compliance with the OMB’s and FBI’s guidelines and procedures.
- Provide methodologies, origins of data, limitations of the information, etc., whenever possible, as part of information dissemination.
- Ensure that the information contained in reports and special studies fulfills the stated objectives and that the conclusions are based on the obtained results.
- Ensure that the FBI’s statistical information is based on (1) the use of sound statistical methods5 and (2) the principle of transparency.6
In addition to the basic quality standards, the FBI gives special consideration to influential information. When information is considered influential, the FBI gives an added level of scrutiny to the data to ensure that it is reproducible. With regard to the UCR data it publishes and in alignment with the guidelines followed by the Department of Justice, the FBI defines influential information as that which is expected to have a genuinely clear and substantial impact at the national level or on major public and private policy decisions as they relate to criminal justice issues. A clear and substantial impact is one that the FBI is firmly convinced has a high probability of occurring. If it is merely arguable that an impact will occur or if it is a close judgment call, then the impact is probably not clear and substantial. To determine that there is a clear and substantial impact, the FBI must have greater certainty than would be the case for many ordinary factual determinations. The impact must concern important public policy or private sector decisions that are expected to occur. Even if information has a clear and substantial impact, it is not influential if the impact is not on a public or private determination that is important to policy, economic, or other decisions.
The responsibility for determining if UCR information is influential lies with the FBI’s management staff within the OP Branch using the principles articulated in these guidelines, which adhere to standards established by the Department of Justice. In some cases, the FBI’s management may obtain additional guidance or recommendations from the CJIS Advisory Policy Board (APB).
The “influential” designation is intended to be applied to information only when clearly appropriate. The FBI will not regularly or routinely designate information products or types of information as influential, nor will the FBI actually place an “influential” label in the title page or text of an information product.
The FBI’S Procedures for Data Quality
UCR Data Design/Structure (Methodology)
The CSMU checks the quality of the data that are submitted to the FBI. The unit serves as the centralized repository within the FBI for the collection and review of crime data reported to the national UCR Program. (The UCR Program currently includes the UCR Summary system, the NIBRS, the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted [LEOKA] Program, and the Hate Crime Program.)
The CSMU staff initially review the data to determine adherence to UCR policy, conformance to UCR definitions and principles, and consistency with established statistical methodologies and norms. Before the information is entered into the national database, the CSMU staff use specialized edit functions to ensure that the data meet the established standards. If the staff find errors or anomalies, they obtain verification and/or correction from the submitting agency/state UCR Program. After the data pass through this first series of checks, the data are uploaded or manually entered into the national database. CSMU staff then review the data through a series of multilayered processes to check the data for reasonableness, quality, and validity.
The CSMU’s data management includes data quality reviews; as such, the CSMU’s staff members:
- Check data for its logical consistency.
- Check data for reasonableness.
- Ensure adherence to sound estimation methodologies.
- Ensure adherence to monetary submission standards for stolen and recovered property.
- Ensure that other statistical edit functions are processed within established parameters.
If necessary, the unit contacts data contributors to clarify data submissions that do not pass the data quality checks and to explain the policy or procedure governing the issues. Accordingly, the CSMU corresponds with direct contributors and state UCR Programs to obtain corrected reports, notify of adjustments, or question exceptions to edit checks, etc. In addition, the CSMU ensures that the UCR data collected by the FBI adhere to federal statistical directives that govern the collection of the information.
Beyond its internal quality assurance measures, the FBI also offers on-site reviews of the records of the law enforcement agencies that submit UCR data to the FBI. The FBI’s CJIS Audit Unit conducts Quality Assurance Reviews (QARs) to assess an agency’s data to ensure compliance with program requirements. (More information about this process is furnished in the QAR section of this publication.)
Further, depending on available resources, the FBI provides training for any participating law enforcement agency requesting it. This provision assists the agency in ensuring uniformity of crime data and adds another opportunity for quality control. The FBI’s on-staff trainers are also available to answer specific questions about classifying and scoring or other questions about the program. (More details about training are furnished in thesection of this publication.)
The FBI’s CJIS Division has a team of auditors who conduct periodic reviews of UCR crime data collected and reported by the Program’s data contributors. Each state’s UCR Program is subject to review at least once every three years to evaluate the state’s compliance with national UCR guidelines. The QAR focuses on classification and scoring procedures, clearances, property values, arrest counts, and correction of previously identified errors.
The objectives of a QAR are to:
- Ensure that agencies’ data are compatible with UCR standards.
- Identify strengths and weaknesses in an agency’s reporting methods, thereby helping the agency to improve the accuracy of its crime data.
- Assess the validity of an agency’s crime statistics.
- Assist agencies through feedback and identification of UCR records management needs.
The QAR process consists of five steps. To conduct a QAR, staff members:
- Correspond with the state UCR Program to provide and/or request the information necessary to conduct on-site reviews of various agencies under the guidance of the state Program.
- Correspond with the local law enforcement agency to provide and/or request the information necessary to conduct the review. The QAR staff members make arrangements with the local agency to schedule the review.
- Conduct an on-site review of the appropriate records at the state repository.
- Conduct an on-site review of the appropriate records at the local law enforcement agency.
- Furnish the agencies with a written report outlining their findings and recommendations.
After the QAR, auditors provide a report of their findings to the state UCR Program. The agency should adjust its reporting practices accordingly. After it has been reviewed, the auditors present the finalized report of the QAR to the CJIS APB’s UCR Subcommittee for appropriate action, including requesting that the state UCR Program correct any deficiencies the FBI discovered during the QAR.
In order to ensure uniformity in reporting the nation’s crime data and further enhance the quality of the data that are published, the FBI has trainers who provide on-site training for any law enforcement agency that participates in the UCR Program. The trainers furnish introductory, intermediate, or advanced courses in data collection procedures and guidelines (for both Summary and NIBRS, and the Hate Crime Statistics and LEOKA Programs). In addition, the trainers are available by telephone or e-mail to provide law enforcement agencies with answers to specific questions about classification or scoring or other questions about the UCR Program.
The FBI’s trainers provide the following services to UCR data contributors:
- Training for both the Summary system and NIBRS, including Hate Crime Statistics and LEOKA data collection.
- Responses to letters, facsimiles, or telephone questions and clarifications of issues by researching and interpreting UCR Summary, Hate Crime Statistics, LEOKA, and NIBRS policy and procedures.
- Background information and subject matter expertise.
- Policy files for historic references.
- Assistance with the NIBRS certification process and requirements.
- Liaison with federal, state, and local UCR/ NIBRS personnel in order to ensure UCR needs are met.
The FBI also employs specialized coordinators who provide support for the NIBRS and LEOKA Programs. The NIBRS coordinator provides support for agencies that contribute data via the NIBRS or that want to become certified to contribute data using the NIBRS. Similarly, the LEOKA coordinator provides training and support for the LEOKA Program. Both coordinators also work to increase participation in their respective programs and are available to answer questions or address issues. In addition, they serve as liaisons with and provide support to other FBI staff.
UCR crime data are disseminated through the MPG. Data can be requested by telephone (304) 625-4995, facsimile (304) 625-5394, e-mail (<firstname.lastname@example.org>), or by writing to: Multimedia Productions Group, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Module D-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0157. Staff members fill these data requests expeditiously (e.g., with UCR publications or with printouts; electronic media; or special compilations, which provide unpublished data from the various master files.)
In addition to providing crime-related information/research to the community of data users and the general public, the MPG responds to inquiries (e.g., explaining the UCR Program’s policies and procedures) and prepares data reports for law enforcement, academic researchers, government officials, the media, and the general public. The MPG also coordinates the uploading of many of the most requested UCR reports on the FBI’s Internet site at http://www.fbi.gov/stats-services/crimestats and on the FBI’s Intranet.
Before the MPG disseminates UCR data or written text providing overviews of published data, the MPG’s staff review the information for general accuracy. When the data or narrative overview contains complex or unique statistics or information, the MPG reviews the information for correctness of presentation and accuracy of terminology and language. In addition, the staff attempt to ensure that any limitations or explanations of the proper use of the data are noted as appropriate. After this process is completed, the unit chief also reviews the information before approving the response to the requester.
Note: The preparation, review, and documentation of special studies (e.g., statistical models, analyses, or reports other than straightforward UCR data presentations) produced and published by the FBI are outlined in the “Special Studies” section of this document.
Statisticians assigned to the Crime Analysis, Research and Development (CARD) Unit analyze crime data, conduct criminological research, and assist in the technical enhancement of the UCR Program, as well as provide expert assistance in the development and implementation of other related programs. These statisticians/researchers assist other units by helping them develop new presentations for UCR data and by improving methods of data quality. Staff in the CARD Unit conduct special research studies designed to test social science theories of crime. These studies are conducted to examine the underlying patterns and causes of crime and its impact on victims and communities.
When conducting research and preparing studies, the CARD Unit staff generally follow the principles of the American Statistical Association’s Ethical Guidelines for Statistical Practice (http://www.amstat.org) and Principles and Practices for a Federal Statistical Agency (National Academy Press, 2nd ed., 2001). (For information about these principles and practices, please refer to the respective publications.)
Methodology, Documentation, and Archived Data
The CARD Unit strives to maintain transparency in its methods and the reproducibility of all studies and reports it develops. To achieve that goal, the researchers provide the appropriate documentation with all publicly-released studies.7 For example, each of the studies produced by the CARD Unit staff has specific information about the data and the methodology used. This information, available either in the publication or upon special request:
- Provides the reader with the ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the study, including any statistical or substantive assumptions made.
- Reproduces the construction of variables not available from the FBI’s UCR master files, including any specifications for recoding of values.
- Assesses and reproduces any data cleaning or imputation methods used in the study.
- Reproduces the construction of tables and charts and other statistical results with reasonable accuracy by qualified individuals.
In order to provide the highest level of quality on analyses produced and published by the CARD Unit, all reports and studies go through a rigorous review. In addition, the CARD Unit personnel are available to answer questions regarding the content and methodology of studies published. Requests for this information should be directed to the FBI’s MPG. (Contact information for the MPG is furnished in the section titled “Data Dissemination.”)
Oftentimes, a researcher from the CARD Unit uses non-UCR data (i.e., data that have been collected from another FBI program or a source outside the FBI) when conducting a special study. When this occurs, the particular data used in the study are archived and maintained by the Unit. All data sets are afforded the level of security (if applicable) and confidentiality protection required by law to prevent unauthorized access.8
The FBI’s Procedures for Responding to Requests for
Correction of Disseminated UCR Data
Submitting a Formal Request for Correction
Requests for correction of UCR data adhere to the Department of Justice’s guidelines as outlined in its publication Department of Justice Information Quality Guidelines for Information Disseminated to the Public. (This document is accessible on the Department’s Internet site at http://www.justice.gov/iqpr/iqpr.html.) All requests for correction of UCR data must be submitted by letter or via one of the interactive forms* provided on this site. Letters should be addressed to the Multimedia Productions Group, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Module D-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0157, or by facsimile ( 625-5394), or by e-mail (<email@example.com>). Requests for correction must include the following information:
- A statement that the requester is submitting a request for correction of UCR data under the FBI’s Information Quality Guidelines.
- The requester’s contact information including name, mailing address, telephone number, facsimile number (if any), e-mail address (if any), and organizational affiliation (if applicable) of the person/organization requesting the correction.
- A specific description of the data to be corrected. The requester must include the name of the UCR report or data product, the date of issuance or other identifying information, such as the URL of the Web page, and a detailed description that clearly identifies the specific information contained in that report or data production for which correction is being sought.
- An explanation of noncompliance with the OMB’s and/or the FBI’s Information Quality Guidelines. The requester should include an explanation that describes how the information is incorrect or fails to meet either the OMB’s or FBI’s InformationQuality Guidelines.
- An explanation of the effect of the alleged error. The requester should include an explanation that specifies how the alleged error harms or how a correction would benefit the requester and/or the general public.
- A recommendation and justification for how the information should be corrected. The requester should include an explanation that gives the requester’s specific recommendations for how the information should be corrected and that describes the requester’s position for how the FBI should adopt those recommendations.
- Supporting documentary evidence. Supporting documentation, such as comparable data for research results on the same topic, will help in evaluating the merits of the request.
Requesters should be aware that they bear the “burden of proof” with respect to the necessity for correction as well as with respect to the type of correction they seek. The FBI’s UCR officials will base their decisions on the merits of the information provided by the requester and may be unable to process, in a timely manner or at all, requests that omit one or more of the requested elements. The FBI staff will not attempt to contact the requester to obtain additional information.
What is Not Covered by These Guidelines
If the information in question is not considered to be UCR data, these guidelines do not apply. For instance, Internet hyperlinks and other references to information distributed by others, and opinions, where the presentation is clear that what is being offered is someone’s opinion rather than fact or actual UCR data, are not included. Further, administrative information; procedural, operational, policy, and internal manuals prepared for the management and operations of the UCR Program; and other information that is not primarily intended for public dissemination are not included.
“Dissemination” for the purposes of these guidelines does not include distributions of information that the FBI does not initiate or sponsor. For example, many entities use UCR data in their research projects, and many of those entities publish conclusions and analyses that they draw from the UCR data. However, the FBI does not address conclusions and analyses that the FBI did not author.
The UCR Program’s Response to the Request for Correction
The request for correction will be processed by the MPG, the FBI’s component with the responsibility to disseminate/publish UCR data. Staff from the MPG will review the report to see if it contains all of the required information. (As stated in the instructions in the section titled “Submitting a Formal Request for Correction,” the FBI staff will not attempt to contact the requester to obtain additional information.) If the report is complete, a staff member will identify the reported error, channel it to the appropriate unit chief, and ensure that the request is given to one of the FBI’s UCR representatives who is knowledgeable of the subject matter. That representative will conduct a thorough review of the information being challenged, the processes that were used to create and disseminate the information, and the conformity of the information and those processes with both OMB’s and the FBI’s Information Quality Guidelines. Based on the explanation and evidence submitted with the request for correction, the FBI’s UCR representative will determine whether a correction is warranted and, if so, what corrective action the FBI will take.
If the FBI’s UCR representative determines that the data user simply does not understand or has misinterpreted the data (including methodology, analysis, or results), a member of the MPG will contact the requester and explain. If the representative determines that the data are incorrect, he or she will ask the appropriate staff to correct the data or take other appropriate action(s). This may entail a simple reissuance of the data or asking the FBI’s programmer to amend the data in the database. If the action taken is a simple reissuance of the corrected data, a member of the MPG will send the corrected data to the requester. If the course of action is more complex, a staff member from the MPG will respond to the requester by letter, e-mail, or facsimile and explain the findings and the actions to be taken (if any) in response to the complaint.
The FBI will normally respond to requests for correction of information within 60 calendar days of receipt of the request. If the request requires more than 60 calendar days to resolve, a member of the MPG will provide an interim response informing the requester that more time is required, indicating the reason, and estimating a decision date.
Note: Any corrective action will be determined by the nature and timeliness of the information involved and such factors as the significance of the error on the use of the information and the magnitude of the error. Unless extenuating circumstances exist, the FBI will not send individual notices to data users when corrections and/or revisions are made to its crime data. Instead, corrections and/or revisions will be noted on the appropriate files on the FBI’s Internet site. The FBI is not required to change or in any way alter the contents or status of information simply based on the receipt of a request for correction.
The FBI will not respond substantively to frivolous or repetitive requests for correction. Nor will the FBI have to respond substantively to requests that concern information not covered by the guidelines or from a person whom the information does not affect.
If the requester disagrees with the FBI’s denial of a request for correction or with the corrective action the FBI intends to take, the requester may file a request for reconsideration with the MPG. The FBI’s appeals process follows the guidelines outlined by the Department of Justice. (More information on this process is detailed in the Department’s publication Department of Justice Information Quality Guidelines for Information Disseminated to the Public, accessible at http://www.justice.gov/iqpr/iqpr.html.)
Persons desiring to file a request for reconsideration should submit the request in writing to: Multimedia Productions Group, Criminal Justice Information Services Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Module D-3, 1000 Custer Hollow Road, Clarksburg, WV 26306-0157) , facsimile (304) 625-5394, or e-mail (<firstname.lastname@example.org>). The requester should include written material to support his or her case for reconsideration. The requester should not resubmit the information originally submitted to support the request for correction.
Requests for reconsideration must be filed with the FBI’s MPG (postmarked or shipped by an overnight delivery service) within 45 calendar days after the date that the FBI notified the requester of its decision on the original request for correction. Requests for reconsideration that are received by the MPG after the 45-calendar-day deadline will be denied as untimely.
When a requester asks for reconsideration, the MPG will ask the appropriate unit chief to get a second representative (not the same representative who responded to the initial request) to conduct another review. The designated reconsideration representative will review the information in question and the material submitted in support of the request for reconsideration, the material submitted with the original request for correction, and the results of the FBI’s investigation of the matter. This representative will then arrive at a decision regarding the request for reconsideration.
The FBI’s MPG will respond to all requests for reconsideration within 45 calendar days of receipt of the request.
Privacy Act Statement
The FBI is authorized under Section 515 of the Treasury and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2001 (Public Law 106-554, codified at Title 44, United States Code, Section 3516, note) to collect the personal information you provide. It is needed to process your request for data correction and allow us to reply accordingly. You do not have to furnish the information, but failure to do so may prevent your request from being processed. The information you furnish is almost never used for any purpose other than to process and respond to your request. However, the FBI may disclose information you give it (e.g., to a congressional office) if authorized or required by federal law.
Appendix I—A Brief History of the UCR Program
Recognizing a need for national crime statistics, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) formed the Committee on Uniform Crime Records in 1927 to develop a system for collecting uniform police statistics. The Committee first determined that the number of offenses known to law enforcement, whether or not there was an arrest, would be the most appropriate measure of the nation’s criminality. Next, the members evaluated various crimes on the basis of their seriousness, frequency of occurrence, pervasiveness in all geographic areas of the country, and likelihood of being reported to law enforcement. Based on this assessment, the Committee identified seven crimes to be reported nationally: felonious homicide, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary—breaking or entering, larceny-theft, and auto theft. From the beginning, the Committee realized that the differences among state criminal codes precluded a mere aggregation of state statistics to arrive at a national total. Further, because of the variances in punishment for the same offenses in different state codes, no distinction between felony and misdemeanor crimes was possible. To avoid these problems and provide nationwide uniformity in crime reporting, the Committee formulated standardized offense definitions by which law enforcement agencies were to submit data without regard for local statutes.
The culmination of the Committee’s work was the publication in 1929 of Uniform Crime Reporting, a complete manual for police records and statistics. The manual established uniform definitions for Part I (murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, and auto theft) and Part II (all other crimes except traffic offenses) crimes and described procedures for completing the Return A, “Monthly Return of Offenses Known to the Police.” During the following months, law enforcement agencies in 400 cities from 43 states and the territories of Puerto Rico, Alaska, and Hawaii submitted statistics, and the IACP subsequently published the first monthly Uniform Crime Reports for the United States and Its Possessions. The pamphlet consisted of one table, “Number of Offenses Known to the Police: January 1930.”
At the urging of the IACP, Congress enacted legislation in 1930 authorizing the Attorney General to gather crime information. The Attorney General, in turn, designated the FBI to serve as the national clearinghouse for the data collected, and the FBI assumed responsibility for managing the UCR Program in September 1930.
Over the years, the scope of the UCR Program expanded in response to suggestions from law enforcement advisory groups or to comply with federal mandates. For example, agencies began contributing data on the age, sex, and race of arrestees in 1952. Additionally, national data concerning the age, sex, and race of murder victims and the weapon used were available for the first time when the Program published the Supplementary Homicide Report in 1962.
Other changes have occurred through the years. For example, in 1978, Congress mandated the collection of arson data and, in 1982, directed the FBI to permanently count arson as a Part I offense. Beginning in 1980, the OMB authorized the FBI to collect data regarding the ethnic origin of persons arrested. The FBI collected ethnicity data from local and state law enforcement agencies until 1987, when the OMB’s authorization expired. Following passage of the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990 (the Act), the FBI began collecting from agencies the additional variable of bias motivation in incidents in which the offense resulted in whole or in part because of the offender’s prejudice against a race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity/national origin. In 1994, Congress amended the Act to include bias against physical or mental disability. (of this publication provides more information about the Hate Crime Statistics Program.) The Violent Crime Control Act of 1993 directs the FBI to collect information on incidents of gang violence. In 2006, the USA Patriot Improvement and Reauthorization Act required the collection of reports of cargo theft by federal, state, and local officials as a separate crime category within the UCR Program. The William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008 requires the collection of information about offenses of human trafficking and additional information associated with prostitution offenses.
Appendix II—A Brief History of the LEOKA Program
From 1937 through 1971, the FBI published in its annual report, Crime in the United States, statistics on law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. In June 1971, the Prevention of Police Killings Conference resulted in a Presidential Directive charging the FBI with the collection of more details concerning law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty. Organizers of the project decided that the FBI could obtain the information from the FBI’s field offices and disseminate it immediately over The International Justice and Public Safety Information Sharing Network (also known as Nlets).
Beginning in 1972, the FBI published the first annual report, Law Enforcement Officers Killed Summary and the Analysis of Assaults on Federal Officers. Also in 1972, the FBI began collecting data concerning assaults on nonfederal law enforcement officers, and these statistics were published in Crime in the United States. From 1982 to present, statistics involving law enforcement officer killings and assaults have been combined into the annual publication, Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted.
Appendix III—A Brief History of the Hate Crime Program
On April 23, 1990, Congress enacted the Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990. The Act requires the Attorney General to establish guidelines and collect, as part of the UCR Program, data “about crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, including the crimes of murder and nonnegligent manslaughter; forcible rape; robbery; aggravated assault; burglary; larceny-theft; motor vehicle theft; arson; simple assault; intimidation; and destruction, damage or vandalism of property.” The FBI in conjunction with the Department of Justice developed procedures for and implemented the collection of hate crime data. Hate crime information is collected from local, county, and state law enforcement agencies in the United States.
In September 1994, the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act to add disabilities, both physical and mental, as factors that could be considered a basis for hate crime.
In 2009, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act amended the Hate Crime Statistics Act by also requiring the collection of data about hate crimes motivated by actual or perceived “gender and gender identity” bias, “including data about crimes committed by and crimes directed against, juveniles.” There are many kinds of bias, but the types of bias reported to the UCR Program are those mandated by the Act, which currently include: race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity/national origin and gender and gender identity.
Appendix IV—Commonly Used Acronyms
APB—Advisory Policy Board
CARD—Crime Analysis, Research and Development
CJIS—Criminal Justice Information Services
CSMU—Crime Statistics Management Unit
FBI—Federal Bureau of Investigation
IACP—International Association of Chiefs of Police
LEOKA—Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted
MPG—Multimedia Productions Group
NIBRS—National Incident-Based Reporting System
OMB—Office of Management and Budget
OP Branch—Operational Programs Branch
QAR—Quality Assurance Review
The Act—Hate Crime Statistics Act of 1990
UCR—Uniform Crime Reporting
1The FBI’s guidelines for receiving, reviewing, and responding to requests for correction of disseminated UCR data are closely aligned with the guidelines established by the Department of Justice, the governing agency of the FBI. The Department of Justice’s guidelines can be accessed on the Internet at http://www.justice.gov/iqpr/iqpr.html.
2A brief historical background of the national UCR Program is provided in Appendix I of this publication.
3A brief history of the Hate Crime Program is provided in Appendix III of this publication.
4A brief history of the Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted (LEOKA) Program is provided in Appendix II of this publication.
5Sound statistical methods produce information (data and analysis results) that are accurate, reliable, and unbiased. Guidelines to promote sound statistical methods cover the planning of statistical data systems, the collection of statistical data, and the processing of statistical data (including analysis).
6Transparency refers to a clear description of the methods, data sources, assumptions, outcomes, and related information that will allow a data user to understand how the information product was designed or produced. Guidelines to ensure transparency in statistical information cover the dissemination of information, including both presentation and the reporting of information sources as well as the limitations of the data.
7The guidelines outlined in this section do not apply to studies conducted by the CARD Unit that are considered to be law enforcement sensitive/for official use only or classified at the secret level or higher.
8The FBI archives all of its UCR crime data in the form of master files that are available upon request and free of charge. The data in these master files as well as publicly-released UCR crime data are considered public domain and, therefore, are made available to whoever requests them. Security and confidentiality restrictions do not apply to UCR data; however, in many of the CARD Unit’s research projects, staff may use data other than UCR statistics (e.g., information from the National Crime Information Center). These special studies warrant the need for unique data sets, which the CARD Unit must maintain according to the guidelines of the original source.