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Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics

Appendix 1

Justice Expenditure and Employment Data

Survey methodology and definitions of terms

Note: The following information has been excerpted from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, Justice Expenditure and Employment Extracts: 1993, Bulletin NCJ-163068 (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, forthcoming); and information provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics.

Data collection

The Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) discontinued its survey of criminal justice expenditure and employment (CJEE) for budgetary reasons following the collection of 1979 data. That survey provided comparable trend data from 1971 to 1979. Beginning with 1980, the Bureau adopted a different methodology to compile and present public expenditure and employment data at greatly reduced cost. In 1985, 1988, and 1990 the original survey methodology was reimplemented to provide data necessary for block grant allocation of Bureau of Justice Assistance funds.

Trend comparisons between the 1971-79, 1985, 1988, and 1990 survey data and data in the Justice expenditure and employment extracts series are complicated by differences in methodology. In making trend comparisons, users should limit their analysis to one of the two sources: long-term trends for 1971-79, 1985, 1988, and 1990 from the Justice expenditure and employment survey series; or more recent year-to-year trends from the 1980-92 Justice expenditure and employment extracts reports.

The data presented here are from the extracts reports and are based on a special compilation of data and sources available from the U.S. Bureau of the Census' regular surveys of public finances and employment. These recurrent series of annual publications on governmental finances (series GF) and public employment (series GE) provide data on expenditure and employment, by function, of the Federal, State, and local governments (counties, cities, townships, school districts, and special districts). The data collection procedures for these two surveys are described below.

Annual finance survey: Federal Government financial data were obtained from actual data presented in The Budget of the United States Government for each fiscal year displayed. Certain adjustments were made in Federal data to arrive at Census Bureau "expenditure" amounts. State finance statistics as well as those for large counties and cities were compiled by Census Bureau representatives from official reports and records, with the advice of State and local officers and employees. The figures were classified according to standard census categories for reporting large government finances, and were reviewed intensively. The remaining data were provided by local officials either through central State sources or in response to a mail survey using detailed questionnaires.

The initial data collection phase used three methods to obtain data: mail canvass, field compilation, and central collection from State sources. Mail questionnaires went directly to 3,900 county, municipal, and township governments. Trained Census Bureau representatives compiled data for the 78 largest, most important county governments--generally those with a population of 500,000 or more--and the 52 largest municipal governments--those with a population of 300,000 or more. The balance of the county government data and municipal and township data was sought from cooperative Census Bureau-State arrangements.

The mail canvass involved the use of detailed Census Bureau schedules with related reporting instructions. Census Bureau examiners reviewed the mail reports intensively and used extensive correspondence to supplement and verify incomplete and questionable information. In significant cases where returns of acceptable data could not be obtained by mail canvass or from available published sources, Census Bureau agents visited county and municipal government offices to obtain the basic statistics or important missing information.

As with mail canvass questionnaires, centrally collected financial data sometimes needed supplementation for such items as debt, assets, or particular functional expenditures or revenue items. Census Bureau staff obtained these supplementary data from special tabulations in other State offices, printed reports, secondary sources, or from mail requests directly to the county municipal, or township governments.

Through these efforts only a minor percentage of the general purpose government sample--representing nearly all quite small governments--remained incomplete. For nonrespondent governmental units and agencies, prior year data were used as they were reported.

Annual employment survey: Federal Government civilian employment data were obtained from records maintained by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. These records did not provide the information necessary to compute Federal full-time equivalent employment. Statistics for State and local governments were obtained by a mail survey.

After extensive nonresponse followup, prior year data were used for government units and State agencies that remained non-respondent.

Sample design

All State governments were surveyed. The sample of local governments is drawn from the 1987 Census of Governments and consists of certain local governments taken with certainty plus a sample below the certainty level. General purpose government units in the certainty group are: all county governments with a population greater than 50,000; and all municipal and township governments with populations greater than 25,000.

The remaining sampled units were selected with probability proportional to their financial activity. This criterion was applied first for each county area having 100,000 or more population and then for the balance of local governments in each State. The sample also included certain independent school districts and special districts, for which justice data are not collected.

Survey period

The Federal Government expenditure data are for the fiscal year, which ended on September 30 of the year indicated; for example, 1993 data are for the period Oct. 1, 1992 to Sept. 30, 1993.

The State expenditure data presented cover fiscal years ending June 30 for all States except four whose fiscal years ended as follows: New York, March 31; Texas, August 31; and Alabama and Michigan, September 30.

For local governments, the fiscal years reported are those that closed between July 1 and June 30. Most municipalities and counties end their first fiscal years on December 31 or June 30. The fiscal years reported for Washington, D.C. ended on September 30.

Some agencies operate on a different fiscal year basis from the rest of the parent government. In such instances, figures included are for the agency's fiscal year that ended within the parent government's regular fiscal year.

The employment data are for October of the year indicated.

Review procedures

All schedules--mail canvass, those compiled by Census Bureau-trained enumerators from official sources, field enumerated and centrally collected--were examined for evidence of completeness, internal consistency, and a reasonable relation to figures reported for earlier periods. In addition to the manual review, a computer edit checked for impossible or improbable entries and identified in detail the differences with prior data.

These procedures were designed to achieve, for the data reported here, a high standard of completeness and accuracy. Undoubtedly, however, some mistakes and inconsistencies of official reporting, or of Census Bureau handling of particular items, have escaped detection. Please inform the Bureau of Justice Statistics if the tables or data tapes reveal potential data problems.

Population data

The "resident population" data used here are for July 1 or October 1 of each year from the U.S. Bureau of the Census, Current Population Reports. They are consistent with the 1980 and 1990 decennial enumerations and they do not include adjustments for census coverage errors. They are the most current published estimates available when the tables were constructed and may differ from population data in previous publications in this series. See the Source for details.

Data limitations

The surveys from which these data were extracted are not designed specifically to obtain data on specific justice functions. Data were compiled after the regular surveys had been completed and it was not possible to modify collection procedures to achieve a more precise compilation.

The survey sample for the local government police protection, judicial and legal services, and corrections estimates was not designed specifically to produce data on these activities. Thus, the sampling variability, or "standard error," for these three justice sectors is apt to be larger than for the major categories in the Census Bureau's regular surveys and for the same functions in the BJS's periodic surveys. The "standard error" is a measurement of variation among the estimates from all possible samples, of which this is one, having the same size and selected using the same sampling design. Estimates derived from the different samples would vary from each other (and also from a complete census using the same data collection procedures). The standard error, therefore, measures the precision with which an estimate from one of these samples approximates the average result of all the possible samples.

In reviewing the sample-based estimates, it is important to bear in mind that the sampling variability for smaller components, such as type of local government detail, is likely to be greater than the overall standard errors. Conversely, because State government figures are not subject to sampling variation, the State-local aggregates shown for individual States are more reliable (on a relative standard error basis) than the local government estimates they include. Since the national estimates of local government expenditure and employment are based on summations of individual State data, they are more reliable than the State-area data.

The data also are subject to possible inaccuracies in classification, response, and processing. Every effort was made to keep such errors to a minimum through care in examining, editing, and tabulating the data submitted by government officials. Followup procedures were used extensively to clarify inadequate and inconsistent survey returns. For the mail portion of these annual surveys, figures reported by government officials are generally accepted as being substantially correct. In some cases, varying interpretations of the instructions or deficiencies in governmental employment and fiscal records may make it difficult for officials to render complete and accurate reports for their governments. These difficulties are dealt with by (1) careful definitions of terms and detailed instructions in difficult cases, (2) supplemental correspondence and telephone followup to officials, and (3) intensive examination of data collected, that is, verification of internal consistency and comparison with previous reports and other sources of data. Errors that may be introduced during processing (input preparation, etc.) are minimized through the use of intensive computer editing of the data at various stages of the processing system. Additional correction and reclassification procedures were used with data from each of the States and large counties in order to narrow methodological differences between the data and those obtained through the periodic BJS surveys.

Readers should be generally cautious in comparing governments, because differences in functional responsibilities from State to State and government to government also can affect the comparability of expenditure and employment data. For example, some State governments directly administer certain activities that elsewhere are undertaken by local governments, with or without fiscal aid, and the same variation in the division of responsibilities exists for counties and cities.

The figures presented differ in some cases from those previously published in the Census Bureau's annual finance and employment reports because of the more intensive review procedures used for this special compilation, the refinements of data involved, and certain definitional differences. They also differ from those previously published by BJS for 1985, 1988, and 1990 in the Justice expenditure and employment in the U.S. survey series. Data from the survey series should be used in trend analysis for 1971-79, 1985, 1988, and 1990. The 1993 data should be used with the 1980-92 data published in the BJS Justice expenditure and employment extracts series.

Definitions of terms

Expenditure includes only external cash payments made from any source of monies, including any payments financed from borrowing, fund balances, intergovernmental revenue, and other current revenue. It excludes any intergovernmental transfers and noncash transactions, such as the provision of meals or housing of employees. It also excludes retirement of debt, investment in securities, extensions of loans, or agency transactions. Total expenditures for all government functions do include interest payments on debt, but the expenditure data for individual functions such as justice do not.

Expenditure is divided into two major categories:

1. "Direct expenditure" is all expenditure except that classified as intergovernmental. It includes "direct current expenditure" (salaries, wages, fees, and commissions and purchases of supplies, materials, and contractual services) and "capital outlays" (construction and purchase of equipment, land, and existing structures). Capital outlays are included for the year when the direct expenditure is made, regardless of how the funds are raised (for example, by bond issue) or when they are paid back.

2. "Intergovernmental expenditure" is the sum of payments from one government to another, including grants-in-aid, shared revenues, payments in lieu of taxes, and amounts for services performed by one government for another on a reimbursable or cost-sharing basis (for example, payments by one government to another for boarding prisoners).

Employees are all persons on government payrolls during the pay period including October 12 of the year indicated. They include all paid officials and persons on paid leave, but exclude unpaid officials, persons on unpaid leave, pensioners, and contractors.

Full-time employees are all persons employed on a full-time basis, including all full-time temporary or seasonal workers who were employed during this pay period.

Full-time equivalent employment is a statistical measure that estimates the number of full-time employees that could have been employed if the reported number of hours worked by part-time employees had been worked by full-time employees. This statistic is calculated separately for each function of a government by dividing the "part-time hours paid" by the standard number of hours for full-time employees in the particular government and then adding the resulting quotient to the number of full-time employees. Prior to 1988, a different methodology was used to compute this statistic, affecting comparability over time. In the past, the payroll-based formula divided the total payroll (full-time plus part-time) by the full-time payroll and multiplied the result by the number of full-time employees.

Payroll is the gross payroll before deductions and includes salaries, wages, fees, and commissions paid to employees as defined above for the month of October.

Police protection is the function of enforcing the law, preserving order, and apprehending those who violate the law, whether these activities are performed by a city police department, sheriff's department, State police, or Federal law enforcement agency such as the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Administration. Sworn police employees are those having general arrest powers. Private security police are outside the scope of the survey.

Judicial and legal services includes all civil and criminal courts and activities associated with courts; the civil and criminal justice activities of the attorneys general, district attorneys, State's attorneys, and their variously named equivalents; corporation counsels, solicitors, and legal departments with various names; and legal counsel and representation in either criminal or civil proceedings as provided by public defenders and other government programs that pay the fees of court-appointed counsel.

Data for the separate functions of courts, prosecution and legal services, and public defense are not available from the source documents as they are from BJS's periodic surveys.

Corrections involves the confinement and rehabilitation of adults and juveniles convicted of offenses against the law and the confinement of persons suspected of a crime awaiting trial and adjudication. It includes costs and employment for jails, prisons, probation, parole, pardon, and correctional administration. Data for institutions with authority to hold prisoners beyond arraignment (usually 48 hours or more) are included in this sector. Data for lock-ups or "tanks" holding prisoners less than 48 hours are included in "police protection."

Correctional institutions are prisons, reformatories, jails, houses of correction, penitentiaries, correctional farms, workhouses, reception centers, diagnostic centers, industrial schools, training schools, detention centers, and a variety of other types of institutions for the confinement and correction of convicted adults or juveniles who are adjudicated delinquent or in need of supervision. It also includes facilities for the detention of adults and juveniles accused of a crime and awaiting trial or hearing. Prison is sometimes used to refer to State correctional institutions.

Other corrections consists of noninstitutional correctional activities, including pardon, probation, and parole activities, correctional administration not directly connectable to institutions, and miscellaneous items that cannot be directly related to institutional care.

Other justice activities includes expenditure and employment data that are not elsewhere classified, that cut across more than one category, or that are not allocable to separate categories. Examples are crime commissions, neighborhood crime counsels, and State criminal justice coordinating councils.

Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics