BALTIMORE – The FBI is moving to change the federal definition of rape for the first time in 80 years, which authorities and women’s advocacy groups hope will lead to improved tracking of the crime and an attitude shift among investigators.

Critics have maintained that the current definition is archaic, too narrow, and leaves crimes uncounted in police statistics, resulting in fewer resources for victims and law enforcement.

A subcommittee of the Criminal Justice Information Service of the FBI plans to take up the task at an Oct. 18 meeting in Baltimore. Its recommendations will go to an advisory board and then to FBI Director Robert Mueller for approval.

Greg Scarbro, the FBI’s unit chief for the Uniform Crime Report, said the agency has been discussing revisions since last year.

“From the highest levels of the FBI, there’s an understanding that this needs to change. We just need to make sure it happens in the right way,” he said.

Since 1927, rape has been defined as forcible male penetration of a female, but it excludes cases involving oral and anal assaults, and assaults in which the victims were drugged or under the influence of alcohol, and male victims.

“In order for the public to combat violence in our communities, we need to know where it exists and what it looks like,” said Carol Tracy, director of the Women’s Law Project, which helped spur reform in Philadelphia a decade ago and has taken a leading role in the push to update the FBI’s definition.