IJIS Institute Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Program (COAP)


The IJIS Institute recently completed the COAP project for Fairfax County, VA. This program was funded by a grant awarded to Fairfax County by the Bureau of Justice Assistance in FY2018. The grant was to cover the cost of developing the design and architecture for a future information-sharing technology solution. The IJIS Institute was contracted as a sub-recipient of the grant, to perform the tasks required to conduct the needs analysis and develop the architecture and design components for the program.

The purpose of this program was to provide the Fairfax County agencies, that work with Fairfax County residents who are suffering from Opioid Use Disorders, with improved treatment and recovery services. Improvement was to be achieved via cross-agency coordination of services when multiple agencies were serving the same client. The solution envisioned would be a multi-agency, secure data environment that would allow limited case data to be shared by the participating agencies.

The agencies involved included: the Community Services Board; Department of Public Health; Department of Corrections; Fairfax County Police and Sheriff; the County Fire Department, Fire, and Rescue services; and the Department of Information Technology. Representatives from all of these agencies were contributors to the project in their respective areas of expertise.

A county project management team was assembled to coordinate the tasks, resources, and timing of the project work effort. This was managed by a Project Manager and Coordinator, in conjunction with the IJIS Institute Project Director. The project management team also included advisors from other related County agencies and initiatives, including Opioid Task Force, Drug Diversion Services, and the Human Services Data Warehouse projects.

The value concept for this project was based on the theory that improved services would result in improved outcomes for those suffering from Opioid Use Disorders. First, assuring that the various disciplines, as indicated by the diverse groups of expert resources and advisors described above, were all engaged in the project would lead to the most comprehensive view of the challenges of the program. Second, an active technology-based data sharing solution would allow immediate and appropriate access to data required to immediately understand what other agencies an opioid client may be involved in.

The IJIS Institute provided expert consultation, as well as the legal and technical architecture and design expertise required to achieve the desired results. IJIS provided the data discovery analysis via a methodology called “Performance Scenario Analysis”, using which the IJIS team was able to conduct a series of analysis sessions with representatives from all of participating agencies.

Utilizing the data identified, the IJIS team conducted legal/regulatory and technical research to determine the details of the rules of use for the data; as well as, simultaneously documenting the technical structures and content of the data as contained source case management systems (where the data resides in each of the participating agency systems). Once the regulatory and legal data sharing requirements are documented, and data structures and content are understood, the IJIS team composed the Services Architecture for the Opioid Policy and Data Framework (OPDF) – the ultimate deliverable for the project.

In addition to the OPDF, the IJIS team completed a number of associated legal and technical deliverables, including the OPDF system architecture, supported by a data architecture and relevant system services

logical views and specifications; a multi-agency Legal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU); specifications for two integrated subsystems, including Consent Management and Identification Management; a series of operational change integration guidelines; a technology architecture defining server configurations and data communications messaging protocols; and, a demonstration model of the OPDF transaction processing environment.

The most significant lesson learned in this project was imposed on the County and IJIS teams due to the serious disruption of the pandemic restrictions. The most restrictive timing for the teams in this project hit in early 2020 and continued to hamper progress through the year, and well into 2021. The lesson learned was that we could adjust our methodology to a virtual setting and utilize multi-media services to exchange information, and demonstrate progress. As a result of the pandemic, the completion date of the project was extended only 3 months – from October 2021 to January 2022.

All things considered, the IJIS team was able to complete all of the specified deliverables, see attached Punchlist, as well as a Letter of Appreciation from Elizabeth Henry, Fairfax County Project Manager. Additionally, see the attached Program Evaluation Final Report from the George Mason University Research team. The GMU was also part of the project management team as both an observer and adviser. Their report summarizes their observations and recommendations to Fairfax County leadership. This report will be part of the submission to BJA by Fairfax County.

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