Glenn Schmitt, acting director of the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the Justice Department’s research agency, is leaving office next week. Schmitt will take a new supervisory position in early December as director of research and data at the U.S. Sentencing Commission. Schmitt is departing after the Bush administration did not nominate him for the permanent directorship. A new acting director is expected to be named next week. Schmitt is former chief counsel of the House of Representatives’ subcommittee on crime. As a reserve officer in the Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, he served for a year in Iraq in 2004 and 2005.
At NIJ, Schmitt led the effort, along with former director Sarah Hart, to win White House support and conressional approval for a major initiative to help states analyze and process DNA evidence. The program received $108 million in each of the last two fiscal years, and may get $175 million this year. Schmitt leaves amid concern about the non-DNA part of NIJ’s budget. The House approved spending that would keep the budget steady at about $90 million annually, but the Senate appropriations committee proposed only $63 million. It’s not clear what will happen with congressional control shifting to the Democrats, but anticrime research has not been a high priority in Washington. By contrast, dental research gets about $393 million in federal aid.