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Justice Department Seeks Funding for IT Work on Identity

In a recent budget change proposal, the California Department of Justice seeks money from the General Fund to modify IT systems around the use of “X” as “an individual’s nonbinary descriptor.”

A person with their eyes covered to represent hiding their identity.
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The state Department of Justice has identified IT challenges resulting from implementation of a gender identity bill signed into law in 2017 by then-Gov. Jerry Brown and is seeking additional state funding to address issues.

In a budget change proposal (BCP) submitted recently, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is requesting a little more than $1.1 million from the General Fund in the 2022-2023 Fiscal Year, to “begin implementation of necessary system modifications to meet the criminal justice community needs and mandates” of Senate Bill 179, from Sen. Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. Among the takeaways:

  • The bill requires driver’s license applicants at the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), by Jan. 1, 2019, to “choose a gender category of female, male, or nonbinary, as specified, and would require the department to adopt regulations to provide a process for an amendment to a gender category under these provisions.” It also requires the enrollment form for the California Organ and Tissue Donor Registry “to instead require an applicant to mark his or her gender.” “During the legislative cycle for SB 179, the DOJ did not report any fiscal impact, as the bill specifically targeted the DMV,” DOJ explains in the BCP. But the DOJ “later discovered that the DMV’s implementation of the bill would utilize an ‘X’ as the data value to indicate an individual’s nonbinary descriptor.”
    “The use of an ‘X’ value requires the DOJ to make systematic changes to ensure DOJ systems that interface with the DMV will be able to utilize the data value ‘X’ to represent nonbinary. The data value ‘X’ currently used by DOJ currently denotes other information within the DOJ’s databases.”
  • SB 179 is “specifically a mandate on the DMV,” per the BCP — but its driver’s license and identification information is “shared and utilized by agencies across the state, including the DOJ,” which has fielded questions from agencies about how it will implement the bill. DOJ maintains the California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (CLETS) — the “pass-through for DMV data to many agencies.” The data value “X” now represents “Unknown” in most Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) division systems, including the California Restraining and Protective Order System and the Wanted Persons System. Elsewhere, in systems including the Missing and Unidentified Persons System, “where data is pushed to a federal system such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System,” “‘X’ is not an accepted value” and records containing it “will be rejected.” If a person who identifies as nonbinary in California goes missing, their information “may not be pushed to the federal system, because the federal system only accepts ‘Male’ and ‘Female,’” which would result in their information “not being shared at a national level.” There are, DOJ said, “several risks to the public and state” if it doesn’t receive funding to make changes to the impacted CJIS systems that interface directly with DMV and law enforcement entities: being without the ability “to capture and exchange accurate gender designation data could pose safety risks to the public and lawsuits to the state and law enforcement agencies.”
  • Among DOJ’s needs is a new process “to change existing male or female sex and gender codes” when a person renewing a driver’s license selects the nonbinary gender identity, “and the nonbinary code ‘X’ is transmitted to the DOJ systems.” DOJ needs “contract funding” to update CJIS Division systems impacted by “the DMV’s implementation of the SB 179 mandates, which implemented the nonbinary value ‘X.’” The department called it “likely” in the BCP that more resources will be needed for the project’s next phase and noted it will assess such a need during the second half of 2021-22 budget year — now through June 30 — and at the start of FY 2022-2023. The CJIS Division, it said, does not have the “capacity to reassign existing resources to perform the implementation activities required,” which include building a reference manager for gender values in the system; linking “all impacted systems to the reference manager,” letting them get “sex” field data from a single centralized source; and standardizing records in the Automated Criminal History System to essentially replace the “X” meaning “unknown/unspecified” with “U.” Costs for the implementation will include $312,000 to pay for developer consultants from the Hawkins Data Center Application Development Bureau (2,080 hours at $150 per hour) to design, develop and implement system modifications; $115,050 for a project manager consultant from the Center’s Enterprise Services Bureau (767 hours at $150 per hour) to do project management for the software development life cycle; and $624,000 for business analyst consultants (4,160 hours at $150 per hour) to analyze the existing systems develop business requirements and assist in testing.
Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.