About the NIJ Office of the Director

The NIJ Director

The NIJ Director is appointed by the President. Our current  director is David Muhlhausen.

See a list of past Directors.

On this page find:

Overview of the NIJ Office of the Director

The NIJ Office of the Director establishes the agency's objectives, which are guided by the needs of the field and the priorities of the U.S. Department of Justice. In doing this, both the Director and other Office staff work closely with leadership and staff fro​m across NIJ’s science and support offices. 

The Director is appointed by the President to lead the National Institute of Justice and establish the agency's objectives, guided​ by the needs of the field and the priorities of the ​U.S. Department of Justice. The current Director, David B. Muhlhausen, was sworn in August 22, 2017.

Principal Deputy Director Howard Spivak, M.D.,  and Deputy Director, Jennifer Scherer, Ph.D.,  oversee the activity of the three science and three support offices respectively. See How NIJ is Organized.

Priorities of the NIJ Office of the Director

The Director's priorities include:

  • Strengthen science by leveraging the education and experience of our scientists so that they have more day-to-day involvement in the scientific enterprise of helping to improve public safety and the administration of justice.
  • Increase diversity through a strong commitment to broadening the field of researchers involved in the study of criminal justice in all possible ways from gender, race and ethnicity to the range and spectrum of fields of physical, social and behavioral science that see the opportunity to contribute to the success and advancement of criminal justice in this country
  • Measure impact of NIJ’s work through the development of new metrics that show how our investments in science impact criminal justice policies and practices.
  • Encourage multidisciplinary activity by encouraging boundary-crossing practices within the agency and in our research investments.
  • Foster researcher-practitioner partnerships by expanding NIJ’s engagement with practitioners through the inclusion of partnerships as a consistent element in our solicitations and in the work we support.

Major Initiatives of the NIJ Office of the Director

  • Career development of criminal justice researchers.
  • Expanding intramural research.
  • Improving customer service.

Building the Field through Career Development. NIJ committed to building the field and investing in the development of researchers’ careers as a cornerstone of her leadership agenda. While NIJ has a long history of making such investments, the level of attention, the size of the investment, the number of opportunities and the planning for the future development of this element of NIJ’s work has substantially increased in recent years.      ​

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In addition to the fellowship programs, starting in 2016, NIJ seeks to increase the pool of NIJ researchers and encourage new scholars to champion their own research through the first of its kind NIJ Director’s Early Stage Investigator Award. NIJ accepts proposals from promising new researchers in the criminal justice field who seek the opportunity to conduct primary and secondary research in the areas of criminal justice systems, violence and victimization, or crime control and prevention. See a list of awards resulting from the fiscal year 2016 solicitation.

Intramural Research Program. A robust intramural research program supplementing NIJ’s extramural research program helps to ensure the continuous and efficient fulfillment of NIJ’s statutory mission. It also complements, advances and informs extramural research efforts and helps improve criminal justice policy and practice. Identifying potential research and technology gaps, for example, can help direct future research resources to ensure they have maximum impact on improving the criminal justice system and public safety. Learn more about NIJ’s intramural research initiative.

Improving Customer Service. The success of the Institute hinges largely on our ability to meet the needs of all our customers — from our grantees and the broader research community to policymakers and practitioners. A major step in improving customer services to our grantees has been the creation of the Office of Grants Management. By creating this specialized office, NIJ will 1) pool the talents and experience of our professional grant managers to provide consistent guidance and service to award recipients throughout the grant lifecycle to facilitate the successful completion of grant-funded projects and 2) allow our science staff to spend more time focused on understanding the needs of the field and pushing forward the varied fields of research that can impact the criminal justice system.

Contacts for NIJ Office of the Director

You can contact us at the numbers below or:

Date Modified: January 23, 2017