Cleaning up inconsistencies

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"A case in point"

One of the potential problems of interagency data-sharing systems arises when records from different agency systems don't match. This can be a fairly common occurrence with decentralized systems that leave ultimate control over data creation and upkeep with the participating agencies.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, which runs the District of Columbia's Justice Information System (Justis), has plans to promote a standard set of data elements that agencies participating in Justis can use to minimize such discrepancies. In the meantime, the council has created a mechanism that addresses the issue more informally.

Using a feature called the "data quality alliance," users who spot an inconsistency or error can make note of it and send a message to the agency that input that information.

For example, if a particular record describes an individual as 6 feet 4 inches tall when, in fact, the individual is 4 feet 8 inches tall, a user would click on the "quality alliance" button — located at the bottom of the record — and describe the problem and correction in a message box.

The message — along with the sender's name, telephone number and/or e-mail address — is automatically sent to the agency that houses the data. A permanent record of the message also is archived on the record's "quality alliance" page.

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