Skip to main content


The Research and Data Analytics (RDA) Unit at the Department of Corrections (DOC) conduct and support research that will improve operations, contribute to professional knowledge, reduce recidivism, enhance public safety and advance the agency’s mission. RDA reviews, approves, and coordinates research and data requests, and reviews and coordinates survey requests (DOC Policy 260.050 Research Review and Use (pdf)).

Request Prioritization

The Department of Corrections regularly receives research and data requests. The agency supports scientifically-sound, policy-relevant research and evaluation and will respond to reasonable requests for research assistance, but must limit requests, which are not directly related to its mission and strategic goals.

Human subjects and data-based research requests will be prioritized based on:

  • Executive Order and/or legislation, legal mandate, or imminent public safety risk
  • Alignment with the agency's mission and strategic goals
  • Partnerships with mutual benefit
  • Requestor's experience in correctional research and subject-matter expertise in the proposed topic
  • Available resources to support the requests

Priority Topics related to the 2019-2023 Strategic Plan(pdf)

Human Subject Research and PHI/PII Requests

According to the Code of Federal Regulations (45 CFR 46), human subject means a living individual about whom an investigator (whether professional or student) conducting research obtains (a) data through intervention or interaction with the individual, or (b) identifiable private information. As per the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the HIPAA Privacy Rule provides federal protections for personal health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PII), and held by covered entities and gives patients an array of rights with respect to that information. For more information please contact the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The department is responsible for safeguarding the rights and welfare of persons under its legal jurisdiction as well as its employees who could potentially serve as subjects in research sponsored or approved by the department, or whose personal records are disclosed for research purposes. Individuals under the care of DOC are classified as vulnerable subjects due to their confinement status. The use of individuals under the care of DOC for medical experimentation, cosmetic research, or pharmaceutical testing are prohibited within the Bureau of Prisons (28 CFR 512.11).

The department holds a Federal Wide Assurance (FWA) with the Office for Human Research Protections (OHRP) in the HHS. FWAs are required for every institution that is “engaged” in Federally-supported human subject research. An FWA is an agreement with HHS to review and approve research involving human subjects in accordance with the ethical principles outlined in the Belmont Report and the HHS regulations at 45 CFR Part 46.

Human subject research, PHI/PII, and administrative data research require review and approval from the Washington State Institutional Review Board (WSIRB) when individually identifiable records held by a Washington State Agency are disclosed for research purposes per RCW 42.48.020(2), or when subjects are recruited from a Washington State Agency facility, the Washington State Agency is engaged in the research and the research requires approval by the WSIRB. Consult the Washington State Agency Policy on Protection of Human Research Subjects (pdf) for guidance on whether your proposal requires full Institutional Review Board (IRB) review or may qualify for expedited review. Please note: DOC will no longer accept IRB approvals from other entities.

The department provides information about available data, resources, and associated costs as part of the WSIRB review process. We highly recommend coordination with the Research Unit prior to WSIRB submission to facilitate the process. The requestor is responsible for paying the WSIRB fees and may also be required to reimburse the department for resources needed to fulfill the request. Occasional exceptions may be made for studies conducted in close partnership with the department. Please note that the department reserves the right to request data provision fees in cases when significant staff time will be required to perform the extraction of requested data. The requester will be notified of charges prior to data extraction.

WSIRB approval does not guarantee the department's approval or ability to meet the proposed timeline. The Research Unit is updating the department's Research Review Committee (RRC) process and Research Policy and will provide additional information when it is available. Selections will be highly competitive and based on the prioritization elements.

Please consider the following before submitting a request:

  • Proposals should include a well-defined scope, concise research questions, rigorous methodology, specific data variables requested, realistic timeline, and proposed deliverables.
  • Due to the multi-level review process, decisions may take several weeks. Please consider the length of time a review may take when submitting your proposal. Requests for expedited reviews cannot be considered.
  • The WSIRB and RRC review process may take two to six (2-6) months based on proposal quality and volume of requests.
  • After WSIRB and RRC approval, allow a minimum of two (2) months to establish a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and/or Data Share Agreement (DSA). This timeline assumes that all research protocols and data requested are clearly scoped at the time of WSIRB and RRC approval.
  • If the study involves the department providing administrative data, this may require one to six (1-6) months to build the datasets after approval of the data share, based on available resources and the complexity of the request.

Research Process Flow Chart(pdf)

Project Request Questionnaire(pdf)

Survey Requests

The department receives many survey requests and reserves the right to request modification or deny any request. Those for research purposes will need to go through the WISRB and DOC review process. All survey requests will be evaluated based on survey quality and burden, alignment with the agency's mission and strategic goals, and available resources.

Grant Partnerships

The department encourages grant seeking (i.e., non-state funds received by the department that are not appropriated by the Legislature or received as a cost reimbursement) or other external funding, aligned with the department's mission and strategic goals. Those seeking grants should coordinate with the department well in advance of the proposal deadline (a minimum of 60-90 days). Grants involving research should build in costs for WSIRB approval (see section above) and required department resources, and the time needed at the frontend for WSIRB/DOC approvals, associated agreements (MOU/DSA), and other work required to support the grant (we suggest a minimum of six (6) months lead time). (See Human Subject Research and PHI/PII Requests timelines.)