Feds outsource data cull for State Department terrorism report; complicating trend analysis

The federal government has given the job of compiling statistics used by the State Department to analyze trends in global terrorism to an academic group, a move that may complicate accurate unclassified assessments of patterns of terrorist activity for years to come.

Officials said Tuesday that the switch also removes federal accountability for the numbers, something that could make them less reliable in the eyes of some.

Because of the change, statistics on terrorist incidents to be released May 30 in the State Department's annual terrorism report are likely to be dramatically lower than in previous years. But that decrease may not reflect an actual downward trend in attacks. That's because the new group compiling the data uses different criteria than those employed by the National Counterterrorism Center.