BJA Announces Technical Assistance for Firearms Background Check Improvements through SEARCH

Training and Technical Assistance Announcement

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) announced the availability of no-cost technical assistance (TA) to improve the reporting of disqualifying records for individuals seeking to purchase certain firearms from authorized dealers. These records include, but are not limited to; criminal history, warrants, and specific mental health related records used for background checks conducted through the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Recent acts of violence have focused national attention on the urgent need to close several persistent information gaps remaining in the background check process. BJA, in close coordination with Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) and the FBI, is funding SEARCH, the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics, to work with state, local, and tribal jurisdictions to improve and expand the data accessible to NICS at the time of a firearm background check to ensure lawful purchases.

TA Areas of Emphasis

In order to carry out the goals and objectives of the NICS initiative, SEARCH will serve as BJA’s onsite liaison and assist jurisdictions by convening stakeholders and driving consensus to remove obstacles to improved sharing of records and assist in meeting the program’s goals. SEARCH’s technical assistance can help prevent duplication of efforts across sites by replicating successful strategies and adoption of national reporting standards. Specifically, SEARCH provides a breadth and depth of experience, lessons learned, and promising practices to tackle significant legal, policy, and technology barriers in the following areas:

  1. Governance

Establishing a consensus of the scope, approach, and resources among information sharing partners is a critical aspect of any technology initiative. SEARCH has over 40 years of experience assisting federal, state, local, and tribal entities establish the necessary governance foundation through facilitated discussions, strategic planning sessions, and formalizing agreements via Memorandum of Understandings (MOUs), project charters, performance management, and agile project planning approaches.

  1. Business Process Analysis

Defining the process to achieve a business outcome through information sharing technology solutions can be elusive and requires careful and experienced analysis. Working with information sharing partners, SEARCH uses a proven methodology to identify and capture both current and desired business processes to ensure the supporting technology meets the business needs.

  1. National Technology Standards and Guidelines

Adoption of national standards such as the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) and the Global Reference Architecture (GRA) is not only a smart way to achieve project success, it is often required when using federal grants. SEARCH has a long track record of helping jurisdictions understand how to use these standards and guidelines and implement them in a cost-effective manner.

  1. Technology Tools and Resources

SEARCH offers a wide variety of information sharing resources, training, and tools to assist information-sharing partners achieve successful outcomes. These can include data models, web-service specifications, and supporting requirements documentation, and are offered at no-cost.  Development of these artifacts are based on practical and relevant experience working alongside justice practitioners.

  1. Re-useable Architectures

In many situations, technology solutions address a single business objective resulting in a plethora of isolated and uncoordinated interfaces. SEARCH technical assistance guides information sharing partners to leverage their existing system capabilities in a consistent and cost effective manner to orchestrate many business processes. This approach accommodates not only today’s needs, but can also be reused to address tomorrow’s problems.

  1. Privacy Policy Development

Establishing clear and lawful policies when dealing with justice-related information is an absolute necessity, yet it can be difficult to know how to translate and implement these requirements into a technology solution. SEARCH offers several options for jurisdictions, based on individual needs.

  1. Implementing Promising Practices and Procedures from Peer Jurisdictions

SEARCH can assist practitioners access lessons learned, promising practices, and valuable experience gained from peer jurisdictions that have recently embarked on similar initiatives. In working with a dozen other states, SEARCH likely has a number of references to coordinate related efforts and provide a conduit to successful practices, specifications, or contact information for additional detail and background.

This TTA News and Information post was provided by SEARCH.