Bureau of Justice Assistance and National Center in State Courts Workshop in Denver

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In late May I had the privilege of representing TASC at a workshop sponsored by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) and the National Center in State Courts (NCSC) at their headquarters in Denver. The small group of twelve was comprised of representatives from community corrections, courts and drug testing laboratories, and supported by teams of technologists and overseen by the BJA and NCSC. The group was assembled with the goal of constructing a national standard for automated sharing of drug testing results in a way that is secure, timely and most importantly within a structure that any justice, health or laboratory could participate using their existing technologies.

The standard for building data sharing capabilities is call the National Information Exchange Model, or NIEM (pronounced neem). NIEM is the super information highway over which data will be shared across the health, justice and treatment domains. (We’re getting our own highway!) NIEM provides one methodology for all subscribers to share data. NIEM improves data quality, data security and speed in transmitting records. These objectives result in improved linking of people to services, verifying identity and qualifications (reducing fraud) and providing closer communication with community corrections agents and health care providers.

Our TASC agency was selected to participate because we had demonstrated experience, having pioneered early data integration models with Maricopa County Adult Probation beginning in 2004 as well as a current project working with the Arizona Supreme Court to share testing data ‘real time’ for seven adult probation departments across the state of AZ, representing donor base of over fifty thousand individuals. We are their de facto pilot site implementation.

It was gratifying to know that the BJA and NCSC chose our model to begin the national discussion. The workgroup spent two days refining the work flows, business practices, policies and data elements. The organizers are closely watching our project with the State of Arizona Supreme Court to learn from our implementation and refine the final model for adoption at the national level.