National Information Exchange Model (NIEM)

niemThe National Information Exchange Model (NIEM) is a community-driven, government-wide, standards-based approach to exchanging information. Learn more

This approach, used by Federal agencies, all 50 states and internationally, leverages NIEM tools, processes, and technologies to help implement justice and public safety initiatives. NIEM facilitates interoperability and provides quick access to accurate, complete, and actionable data—such as solutions to protect citizens, respond to disasters, or detect prescription drug abuse.

Adopting NIEM is an important step in implementing information sharing initiatives. NIEM provides a “vocabulary” that practitioners use to represent the meaning and structure of the information they share. This vocabulary specifies interoperable messages for justice, public safety, intelligence, and homeland security.  It represents best practices and common understanding, which is what allows NIEM to ensure semantic interoperability across jurisdictions, while accelerating the definition of information requirements within a jurisdiction.

Confused by NIEM?

Think of NIEM like a dictionary—it provides standard spellings and definitions of words. Exchange specification is like a novel: It brings together specific words to provide contextual meaning. NIEM “novels” are called Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD), which define local standards for exchange.

Using NIEM involves building Information Exchange Package Documentation (IEPD) for specific exchanges—a process that involves several complex steps and tools. SEARCH has been a leader in developing this process, and can assist jurisdictions in navigating it. SEARCH is also aware of pre-built IEPDs available from the community and specialized NIEM tools such as the Law Enforcement Exchange Specification (LEXS), and can assist jurisdictions in applying these off-the-shelf assets where appropriate.

SEARCH has been involved with NIEM (and its predecessor, the Global Justice XML Data Model) since its inception, and can offer practitioners expert advice on its proper and efficient use. Because it is a comprehensive model, NIEM can be daunting at first, and the assistance of an expert—especially at the outset of a project—can make the difference between success and struggle. 

NIEM-UML: An Open Source Tool for Modeling

NIEM-UML is the national standard for modeling NIEM in Unified Modeling Language (UML) and producing NIEM artifacts such as IEPD. NIEM-UML generates 100% NIEM-conformant information exchanges and provides a visual representation of those exchanges that is understandable to both technical and business users. This enables organizations to align their information exchanges with their business requirements. (The NIEM UML source code is hosted by Github.)

SEARCH staff actively participate in the NIEM Program—for example, SEARCH staff co-chairs the NIEM Technical Architecture Committee—and helped develop the NIEM Naming and Design Rules and Model Package Description specification. We are also in the process of developing NIEM-UML curriculum for 2014. 

Call on our expertise and leadership in NIEM to assist your information exchange needs. 

Additional Resources

Download these useful NIEM and IEPD documents prepared by SEARCH:

What is JIEM, and how does it relate to NIEM?

SEARCH developed the Justice Information Exchange Model (JIEM®), a methodology supported by an intuitive software tool and guided by reference models, which allowed agencies to create information sharing plans. JIEM® integrated with both the Global Reference Architecture and the NIEM. While JIEM was a trailblazer in information exchange modeling, the tool used to generate NIEM-conformant information exchanges has transitioned to the NIEM-UML. SEARCH continues to provide the JIEM tool, related materials, community site, and online certification training for those who wish to use it. Learn more


The initiative is designed to develop, disseminate, and support enterprise-wide information exchange standards and processes that can enable jurisdictions to effectively share critical information in emergency situations, as well as support the day-to-day operations of agencies throughout the nation. It enables mission partners to share information irrespective of the technology products and /or solutions they use.

According to the website, NIEM offers a consistent starting point—which includes a data model, governance, training, tools, technical support services, and an active community—that assists users in adopting a standards-based approach to exchanging data. NIEM provides quick access to accurate, complete, and actionable information.

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.

Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York.