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Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at Women's Economic Empowerment Summit.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
While major changes are needed in how the military handles sexual assault, changing how they study how many sexual assaults occur is ... maybe not the way to go. It doesn't exactly inspire confidence that we'll get a good sense, moving forward, of how reforms passed by Congress are working. But that's the plan. Darren Samuelsohn reports that the Defense Department will be switching its biennial study of sexual assaults and other gender issues from being conducted by the Defense Manpower Data Center, which has done it since 1988, to the RAND Corp. And Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is concerned:
“Changes to methodology, definitions or survey questions will preclude comparison to previous years, hiding any progress the Armed Forces may have made,” Gillibrand said in her letter to Jessica Wright, the acting defense undersecretary for personnel and readiness.

Gillibrand also said she had “particular concern” with a possible change in the survey’s definition of unwanted sexual contact away from the layman terms and other descriptions that DOD lawyers had previously approved. “Altering this core definition will make it impossible to determine whether the data accurately reflects the impact of the new policies and procedures instituted by the Armed Forces,” she wrote.

There's always the possibility this is being done for solid reasons. But boy, is it questionable that, under fire for how many sexual assaults there are in its ranks, the military is changing how it counts sexual assaults. Congress will need to take a close, close look at what RAND does and what numbers it finds.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  maddening/military molestation (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    decent wages don't eliminate jobs. Republicans eliminate jobs; and workers, and prospects, and then excuse it all and call for more austerity. there is no end to their ignorant, arrogant avarice. only political dinosaurs support their treachery.

    by renzo capetti on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 11:43:22 AM PDT

  •  Defense Department going from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    not tracking sexual assaults accurately, to pretending to track sexual assaults accurately.

    Yay change.

    If you stand for nothing you will fall for anything.

    by LieparDestin on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 12:03:46 PM PDT

  •  It's typical. (0+ / 0-)

    There are all sorts of ways to ask questions, whittle down the bad answers, so the numbers aren't so scary. What blows the faulty data out of the water is the reporting that comes from the VA (oh ironies of irony).

    The DoD loves to fuck with statistics.

    "It were a thousand times better for the land if all Witches, but especially the blessing Witch, might suffer death." qtd by Ehrenreich & English. For Her Own Good, Two Centuries of Expert's Advice to Women pp 40

    by GreenMother on Tue Apr 29, 2014 at 12:52:38 PM PDT

  •  Doesn't Count If You Didn't Say "Simon Says" nt (0+ / 0-)

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 05:33:44 PM PDT

  •  Gillibrand was about 5-6 votes away (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    indres, cai

    from 60. Apparently many Senators said, "give us one more year. If things don't improve by then, according to the statistics, I'm behind you.."

    "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

    by randomfacts on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 05:37:34 PM PDT

  •  Gotta ask if it was a legitimate rape I guess. (0+ / 0-)

    The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy;the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness

    by CTMET on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 06:34:40 PM PDT

  •  Two Big Differences Here (0+ / 0-)

    One is this is not like the fake and phony charges that the Census Bureau changes the conservative/Republican/Tea Party tired to claim would "cook the books" on the ACA. They at least can compare the progress of one year worth of data points.

    But I think more importantly is the difference in the way both Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Laura Clawson are approaching this. No charges of conspiracy. No hysteria. Not even any direct charges. Just some very well founded and reasonable concerns.

    Collect Different Days

    by Homers24 on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 06:39:15 PM PDT

  •  As a social science geek, I'd like more info. (0+ / 0-)

    I followed the links, but I don't know what the old questions were or what the new questions will be.

    That's not a small detail. That's the essence of the change.

    I could imagine (here's the problem - imagining stuff) that the old definitions were completely outdated stuff from the old days of sexual assault that diluted the numbers horribly, and that the new methodology will use questions that obtain a more accurate report. I can also imagine the opposite.

    Sexual assault science (data collection and definitions) has changed a lot in a short period of time and I would speculate (yes, only speculation) that the DOD has not kept up.

    I'd hope there will be specifics about this that we can react to. The change in and of itself, is hard to judge.

    "You don't have to be smart to laugh at fart jokes, but you have to be stupid not to." - Louis CK

    by New Jersey Boy on Wed Apr 30, 2014 at 07:36:35 PM PDT

  •  Run both studies / surveys in parallel (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    for two years.  The new methodology may well be better, but it is far less valuable if there is no way of getting a rough idea of how its metrics align with the old.

    Yeah, it costs a bit more. But the DoD ought to be budgeting a bit more on this.

  •  one request (0+ / 0-)

    My one request on any sexual assualt investigation is that as soon as any person starts talking of protecting the future of the alledged perpetrator, that person be permanently removed from any investigation for sexual assault ever.  It does not matter if it is a high school football star that could lose a scholarship or a high ranking air force officer that is the only person who can fly a complex plane.  The future of the accused has no place in the investigation.  We should only be look for the facts.  If we do take the future of the accused into account, lets also take that fact that in many cases  we are talking about the accused having sex with a stranger or subordinate, in which case the decision making skills of that person who is suspect.  In terms of sports, I think the star who does not regularly have sex with drunk people might be more worthy of a scholarship.  In the case of the officer, maybe promoting someone how can keep their pants on might be better than someone who cannot.

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