Exploring the Advisory Committees – Part II – Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS)

Part one of this six-part blog series, Exploring the IJIS Institute’s Advisory Committees, discussed the importance of fostering the participation of diverse perspectives from both the public and private sectors. This aspect is crucial to help advance the organization’s important mission of promoting safer and healthier communities through public sector innovation and information sharing. The formation of the IJIS Institute’s Criminal Justice Information Systems (CJIS) Advisory Committee is in direct correlation with that mission, all while striving to support and improve information-sharing solutions across the federal, state, and local levels. 

The CJIS Advisory Committee promotes partnerships and advances open dialogue between industry and key practitioner organizations that represent the federal, state and local information-sharing initiatives. The Committee evaluates proposed CJIS initiatives, identifies opportunities for new or improved information-sharing standards, develops white papers, and provides further guidance on issues related to CJIS. The 15 members of this committee have profound backgrounds in improving criminal justice information-sharing initiatives. The committee is composed of federal, state, and local practitioners, and industry experts. Their diverse backgrounds have proven to be crucial in the successful completion of Committee objectives. 

All IJIS Advisory Committees can establish a task force or working group to focus on advancing specific information-sharing initiatives or solutions. These sub-groups are led by IJIS Members from the respective advisory committee and additional participants with topic-specific skills and experience are enlisted from IJIS’ wider membership. The CJIS Advisory Committee currently has three active sub-groups engaged in advancing specific goals within its mission of improving information-sharing standards and solutions. Specifically, the Background Check Working Group concentrates on collecting information and evaluating existing processes around the country used for non-law enforcement background checks, primarily within the Justice and Health Services domains. In August of 2018, the Working Group created a State Background Check Portal, which provides up-to-date information on state policies and processes for conducting non-law enforcement background checks. This portal provided a resource for members of the technology industry when initiating background checks in the course of their work with law enforcement agencies. 

The Committee’s N-DEx / NIBRS Task Force focuses on issues related to N-DEx and NIBRS. A recent deliverable is an informative N-DEx – NIBRS Compare and Contrast resource, developed with local law enforcement and the RMS to provide the community as an audience, to help to eliminate the mystery and misconceptions about N-DEx and NIBRS data collection and submission. 

One recent success story was the Committee’s Web Services Working Group. The FBI UCR program began to emphasize XML and specifically the NIBRS IEPD as the preferred format for NIBRS submissions of incident data from state UCR programs. The Advisory Committee saw a need to modernize the method of transporting those CML files, and more broadly for state UCR systems to communicate with the FBI’s new UCR system. The Advisory Committee spun up a Web Services Working Group that included IJIS member companies; state program managers, through a partnership with their member organization, the Association of State UCR Program (ASUCRP); and technical representatives from the FBI-CJIS Division. This strong collaboration worked throughout over a year to define a draft web services specification; create a web services definition language (WDL) file; and partner on testing the interactions of the web service. As a result, the FBI has made web service communications available to state programs, which promises to greatly improve the timeliness of NIBRS submissions and enhance and streamline the back-and-forth communications required to resolve errors submitted incident data. 

Through the completion of these projects and deliverables, the Committee has gained further access and participation to a larger audience of industry experts and practitioner executives, which help improve the effectiveness of both current and future projects. Looking forward, the Committee will continue to strategically support national information-sharing initiatives and identify mechanisms to aid with the adoption of current solutions and initiatives. For example, the Committee will be organizing a cross-committee working group seeking to provide clarity on security concerns given the trend toward cloud-hosted criminal justice solutions. 

For any questions regarding the IJIS Institute’s CJIS Advisory Committee, or to inquire about joining the CJIS Advisory Committee, please contact staff liaison, Robert May, at Robert.May@ijis.org. 


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