Where and how does the NC Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) need to develop more rigorous research and evidence for leadership, managers, and front-line staff to inform decisions about the agency’s program, policies, and operations over the next two years?
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The mission of the North Carolina Department of Adult Correction (NCDAC) is for all Divisions of the Department to protect the public by collaboratively focusing on rehabilitation, protection, innovation, accountability, and professionalism. Its mission seeks to work collaboratively with the whole community to create a safer North Carolina upholding the core values of Protect-Respect-Integrity-Diversity-and Excellence (PRIDE). NCDAC is one of the largest North Carolina state government agencies with almost 20,000 positions and an annual budget of approximately $2 billion. NCDAC is responsible for approximately 30,000 individuals who are incarcerated in state prisons and more than 84,000 individuals who are on supervised probation, parole, or post-release supervision.
NCDAC is a newly created Cabinet Agency in North Carolina established in the 2021-2023 budget that was passed by the North Carolina General Assembly and signed into law by Governor Roy Cooper in November 2021. NCDAC split from the North Carolina Department of Public Safety (NCDPS) and officially started operations on January 1, 2023.
NCDAC and the NC Office of Strategic Partnerships (OSP) are undertaking an initiative to develop NCDAC’s Priority Questions Research Agenda (PQRA). The aim of the PQRA is to set and define key areas in which the agency will research and develop evidence to inform its policy, programmatic, and operational decisions. Developing NCDAC’s PQRA comes at an opportune time as the agency works to hire staff, formalize policies and procedures, and further its use of data and research to inform rehabilitation and reentry services to currently and formerly incarcerated individuals.
The primary motivation for NCDAC to develop a PQRA is to develop more rigorous research and evidence for leadership, managers, and front-line staff to inform decisions about the agency’s program, policies, and operations. Moreover, all North Carolinians benefit from evidence-based decisions that improve the safety, rehabilitation, and reentry outcomes NCDAC seeks to achieve.
The NCDAC PQRA will outline potential approaches to address the identified Priority Questions and include an assessment of NCDAC’s research and evaluation capacity to answer the Priority Questions over the next two years (2023-2025).
NCDAC’s PQRA provides a mechanism to coordinate and engage with internal and external stakeholders to identify where more evidence is needed, and to develop a deliberate approach to answer key Priority Questions. Taking this deliberate and intentional approach also helps to further develop “evaluative thinking” among NCDAC staff and stakeholders to help the agency achieve its mission.
- The main deliverable will be the NCDAC Priority Questions Research Agenda Report articulating the agency’s vision for a culture of evidence-based decision making, listing Priority Questions aligned to its Strategic Plan, potential approaches to address the identified questions, and an assessment of NCDAC’s research and evaluation capacity to answer the Priority Questions. The development of the NCDAC PQRA intends to align with the agency’s Strategic Plan to fill gaps in knowledge that might hinder NCDAC’s ability to fully achieve its strategic goals and objectives.
Planned use of results
The NCDAC PQRA will be used to guide the agency’s research and evidence building activities over the next two years (2023-2025). The development of the NCDAC PQRA will also set the stage for OSP’s Evidence Advisors to advise, support, and help execute some initial research and evaluation projects identified by internal and external stakeholders. Some examples of work OSP might complete include conducting evidence reviews for specific Priority Questions, developing research designs for potential evaluations, and conducting analysis of NCDAC data to try answer emergent questions. The Priority Questions included in the PQRA will identify areas where they need to hire staff to build its capabilities to conduct research and evaluation activities.
NCDAC and OSP will work together to identify key internal and external stakeholders from which to solicit input on Priority Questions that will serve as the basis for the drafting of the PQRA. Listening sessions with NCDAC internal and external stakeholders will produce the primary data collected as part of the project.
NC Department of Adult Correction
NC Office of Strategic Partnerships