FBI: CIOs must prep for NCIC

FBI: CIOs must prep for NCIC

BY TRUDY WALSH | GCN STAFF

AUSTIN, Texas'State officials have about a year to get their criminal justice communications systems up to par.

That's the word from Paul Heppner, deputy director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and vice chair of the FBI's Advisory Policy Board.

Heppner spoke to state CIOs and other attendees at the midyear conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers.

Using Microsoft PowerPoint slides, Heppner explained the FBI's new mandates for state law enforcement communication standards. He also explained the FBI's Criminal Justice Information Services Advisory Policy Board process, where the new requirements were formed.

CJIS is made up of five working groups, in the North Central states, Northeast, South, West and a federal group. The Advisory Policy Board (APB) is a 32-member subgroup.

By July 11 next year, all states'as well as federal agencies'have to achieve full functionality with the FBI's National Crime Information Center 2000. Specifically, states must convert their NCIC communications protocol from bisynchronous communications to TCP/IP or IBM Systems Network Architecture.

This, Heppner noted, is going to cost plenty. This achievement of full NCIC 2000 functionality will require some states to invest in new network products, new hardware and new software. New hardware costs may include new mainframes, servers, routers, direct-access storage devices, tape backup equipment, workstations and scanners. The upgrades may require new software formats, new fields, expanded fields and off-the-shelf software.

None of this comes cheap, Heppner said. A live-scan fingerprint device can cost $60,000. 'That's a chunk of change,' he said, especially for smaller states.

As yet, no federal money is available to help states meet the mandates, Heppner said. But once in place, the new law enforcement technology will give states more advanced capabilities.

'We'll be able to transmit images,' Heppner said, 'including mugshots, as well as images associated with stolen property.'

See you in September

By the end of September next year, all CJIS information passing over public networks must be encrypted, Heppner said. A state could get an extension to 2005 if it could prove to the APB that it had a good reason for the delay.

A hushed murmur swept through the audience. A hand shot up.

'What happens if a state isn't ready by the deadline?' an audience member asked.

'We're doing an assessment,' Heppner said. 'There's no warning signs states won't meet the deadline for transitioning to the new communications protocol. But the encryption requirement'that's different. It looks like there might be some trouble there. As of yet, we haven't decided on possible sanctions for states that don't meet the deadline.'

Most of the costs will fall back on the states, Heppner said.

He gave the example of his state, Georgia, to demonstrate how digital crime technology has been a boon to law enforcement. Georgia has a 100 percent electronic interface with the FBI, including digital fingerprints.

Police can find, identify and update a criminal's record within 15 minutes. 'On a local level, it's a great benefit,' he said.

Heppner's PowerPoint presentation is available at the NASCIO Web site, www.nascio.org.

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