State Repository Records & Reporting Quality Assurance Program (QAP)

qapState criminal history record repositories provide informational services that in many ways are the underpinning for critical decisionmaking throughout the criminal justice system and beyond. Repository information has a direct bearing on public safety, homeland security, who works with our children, and in tens of millions of instances each year is a determinant of whether an individual gets the job that he or she seeks.

Yet, given the far-reaching importance of this information, what is collected, how it is processed and who can access it remains largely directed by a hodgepodge of Federal and State statutes, practices, policies and technology. 

While substantial investments by the Federal government and the states have brought systemic improvements, the effectiveness of the national criminal records exchange system continues to experience well-documented shortcomings. For example, there is a wide variation from state to state in the completeness of criminal records. 

Addressing the quality of information in state repositories—particularly as an ongoing improvement process—is an important goal to protect individuals and the public. 

Voluntary Performance Standards

The State Repository Records and Reporting Quality Assurance Program (QAP) offers voluntary performance standards for various information maintenance and reporting requirements of State criminal history repositories. The program seeks to encourage justice data quality and information integrity through these standards. 

SEARCH oversees this program, under funding and direction of the Bureau of Justice Statistics , U.S. Department of Justice. 

The maintenance and reporting requirements imposed on state repositories can include:

Representatives of state repositories helped develop the program, which includes useful quality assurance self-inspection tools—a QA checklist and a methodology to calculate costs to repositories of civil fingerprint handling. Also assisting in development of this program were officials from the FBI Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division . The checklist and fee analysis tool were reviewed by the SEARCH Membership Group and pilot tested in several states. As a convenience, the tools are provided in a Word format that enables them to be filled out electronically or in hard copy. 

This program implements several of the record improvement recommendations included in the criminal history background check report produced by the Attorney General at the direction of the Congress. 

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Related Documents

For many years, SEARCH worked with BJS to bring together subject matter experts to deliberate issues and produce reports intended to improve the quality, use and access of justice system information by providing insights and recommendations to policy makers and criminal record repository administrators.

These focus group and task force reports include:

Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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