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Iowa's UCR Infrastructure and Quality Improvement Project

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2015, $163,205)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The Iowa Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) is part of the Division of Criminal and Juvenile Justice Planning (CJJP) and located in the Iowa Department of Human Rights (DHR). CJJP is requesting funds to conduct both a core capacity and a special emphasis project.

Under the core capacity area, the SAC plans to create a web-based data application for access to adult criminal court data. The SAC manages and maintains the Justice Data Warehouse (JDW), a central repository of key criminal and juvenile justice information from the Iowa Court Information System, the Iowa Correctional Offender Network system, and the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which includes criminal history and UCR data. The JDW’s mission is to provide the judicial, legislative and executive branches of state government and other entities, with improved statistical and decision support information pertaining to justice system activities. CJJP’s current role as the SAC and criminal data clearinghouse demands a bridge between government and citizens which now requires an enhanced online presence. The current web site fails to provide interactive reports utilizing any of the available datasets. A new application would increase efficiency through online access to data, provide useful access to aggregated data tailored to individual data needs, and increase data dissemination. The new CJJP web site, along with a new web-based application, will allow for public access to criminal court data and facilitate independent analysis of dispositions reported to the JDW.

Under the special emphasis area, the SAC will supplement a project initially funded in FY 2014 to continue to increase the completeness, accuracy and access to Iowa’s Incident-Based Uniform Crime Reporting (IBUCR) data by processing the data validation. Under last year’s funding, CJJP executed a successful data exchange of IBUCR data with DPS and are now positioned to begin the process of data validation. Data validation includes a systematic assessment of the quality of the data. The SAC will review the content of the data quality assessment tool developed by the Federal Committee on Statistical Methodology and utilize it as a guide for the validation process. Although the current project is on track, the SAC has discovered deficiencies within the reporting systems that have limited their capability to increase the completeness, accuracy and access to Iowa’s IBUCR data. Iowa’s reporting system relies on a legacy application deployed on an Integrated Database Management System (IDMS) mainframe computer programmed in COBOL. Because of the antiquated system, it cannot be used for data extraction or analysis. Given the limitations to utilize the large amount of crime data for statistical analysis and research, a comprehensive needs assessment for UCR/IBR system modernization is warranted. The needs assessment would document the structure, functionality, and deficiencies of the legacy system, particularly in regard to data extraction and analytical limitations, and to identify and evaluate alternatives. The assessment will also identify and weigh benefits of migrating to a modern and flexible system that includes data extraction, analysis, and access tools, as compared to any alternatives, such as developing and deploying a modern, flexible, user-friendly front-end, while retaining the data tables, formats, reports, and batch functions available in the current legacy system.


Date Created: September 16, 2015