Bill Aims to Improve Sexual Violence Data Collection
A new bill jointly introduced by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Ann Kuster (D-NH), and Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH) seeks to improve the collection process surrounding data on sexual violence within federal agencies.
The bill’s sponsors hope to address inconsistency within agencies on formalizing processes to collect and analyze workforce data on sexual violence. The legislators’ concerns stem from a GAO report that found “four federal agencies…manage at least 10 efforts to collect data on sexual violence, which differ in target population, terminology, measurements, and methodology.”
Sen. McCaskill said, “I’ve spent decades fighting sex crimes, from serving as Jackson County prosecutor to tackling sexual assault on military bases and college campuses as a Senator—and it’s abundantly clear that reliable data can play a key role in strengthening efforts to combat sexual violence.”
Sens. Johnson and McCaskill serve as the Chairman and Ranking Member, respectively, of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.
Chairman Johnson said of the initiative, “The first steps in solving any problem is gathering information, properly defining, and admitting you have it. We must improve the quality and consistency of data made available across government agencies. The time to act on the recommendations of our federal watchdog is now.”
The companion bills, introduced simultaneously in both the House and Senate, would require that the Office of Management and Budget “follow GAO’s recommendations and work with the Departments of Defense, Education, Justice, and Health and Human Services to improve coordination across agencies and develop useful and transparent sexual violence statistics in order to help prevent and address sexual violence and better understand the consequences of these crimes.”
Despite positive trends on sexual harassment within federal workplaces, according to a survey conducted by the Merit Systems Protection Board, “’sexual harassment is still occurring,’ with nearly one in five women reporting having experienced such behaviors, and with women in general being “more than three times as likely as men to say that they have experienced one or more sexual harassment behaviors in the past 2 years.”
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