National Core Indicators

The National Core Indicators (NCI), a joint venture between NASDDDS and the Human Services Research Institute (HSRI) and established in 1997, helps states target human services spending to practices that work.

Read what GOVERNING Magazine says about the NCI.

National Core Indicators – Expanded to include Survey for Aging and Disabilities

Why states use NCI

Performance data collected by NCI helps states answer fundamental questions such as

  1. Are we providing quality service?
  2. Are people healthy and safe?
  3. Do services enable people to participate in family and community life.

Today, NCI measures everything from whether individuals with development disabilities have jobs, have choices about where they live, have access to health care and if they feel services are accessible and coordinated.

How it Works

States conduct a face-to-face survey with randomly selected individuals receiving services. In addition, families are randomly selected for a survey by mail. Data from these interviews and surveys are used to create state reports about individual outcomes; health, welfare, and rights; staff stability and competency; family outcomes and system performance. A national report is generated as well as a report for each state.

What We Learn from NCI

State reports, based on the data collected through interviews and surveys, are issued annually and are publically available. States can use the reports to track their own performance over time, to compare results across states, and to establish national benchmarks.

An NCI Charting Tool which allows the creation of customized reports is available.

The annual summary report highlights particular findings for each year. Data Briefs are produced throughout the year and focus on a particular indicator or group of indicators.

All Data Briefs are on the NCI website.

All NCI Reports can be found on the NCI website.

How States Participate

To participate in NCI, states enter into an annual agreement with NASDDDS. NASDDDS and HSRI provide the structure for surveys and data collection, training for interviewers, and data management and report writing. The state is responsible for completing a series of consumer and family surveys and entering survey data into a web-based online data entry system (ODESA) designed by HSRI.

NCI expansion to NCI- Aging and Physical Disabilities

Since 2013, the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), Human Services Research Institute (HSRI), and NASDDDS have worked to develop a new National Core Indicators survey focused on older adults and people with physical disabilities.  The National Core Indicators-Aging and Disabilities (NCI-AD) is designed to assess the performance of the entirety of a state’s publicly funded programs serving older adults and people with physical disabilities by collecting and maintaining valid and reliable data on service participants’ quality of life and outcomes.  The following thirteen states are participating in the first year of data collection, which begins on June 1, 2015: Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and Texas.  

Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Supports NCI Expansion

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD) has awarded NASDDDS a multi-year project to expand participation in NCI to all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Funding is available to assist state I/DD agencies in covering the costs of the first year of data collection with the expectation that the state will continue to participate in NCI in subsequent years.

This is a five-year project that started in federal Fiscal Year 2011-2012. Applications are made available every March until 2016. For information about this process or other grant related activities view the AIDD Grant Program Description or contact Mary Lee Fay, Director of National Core Indicators at or 703-683-4202.