Report 2013-103 Recommendations and Responses in 2014-041

Report 2013-103: Armed Persons With Mental Illness: Insufficient Outreach From the Department of Justice and Poor Reporting From Superior Courts Limit the Identification of Armed Persons With Mental Illness

Department Number of Years Reported As Not Fully Implemented Total Recommendations to Department Not Implemented After One Year Not Implemented as of 2013-041 Response Not Implemented as of Most Recent Response
Department of Justice 1 20 5 n/a 5

Recommendation To: Justice, Department of

To reduce the risk that it may not identify an armed prohibited person, Justice should revise its electronic matching process to use all personal identifying numbers available in its databases.

Response

The Department is pursuing system enhancements to the APPS database to incorporate the inclusion and review of all personal identifying information (e.g., social security numbers, military identification, out of state driver's license numbers) into the APPS electronic review process. The Department submitted a request for the system enhancement to the Department's Hawkins Data Center (HDC) on August 21, 2013. The information technology team assigned to complete the enhancements is responsible for maintaining several firearms-related data base systems, as well as developing and implementing system enhancements required as a result chaptered legislation. Since legislatively mandated system enhancements take precedence over other projects, it is hard to determine when HDC will initiate our requested APPS enhancements. However, once the enhancements are initiated, they will take approximately six months to complete. In the interim, the Department has developed a manual procedure to maximize the analysts' ability to identify armed prohibited persons by conducting background checks utilizing all identifying numbers.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Justice, Department of

To ensure that timely information is available for its efforts to identify armed prohibited persons and confiscate their firearms, Justice should manage staff priorities to meet both its statutory deadline for firearms background checks and its internal deadline for initially reviewing potential prohibited persons. Justice should report annually to the Legislature about the backlog of unreviewed potential prohibited persons and what factors have prohibited it from efficiently reviewing these persons.

Response

The Department continues its efforts to hire personnel to work the backlog; however we continue to face challenges of finding well-qualified candidates. Existing staff routinely work overtime to ensure statutory deadlines are met for firearms background checks, and analysts working in other sections are redirected as necessary. Since July 2014, enforcement teams have worked 7,839 cases and seized 3,969 firearms.

The Department continues to gather the necessary information to meet the reporting requirements mandated by Senate Bill 140 and will comply with the due date of March 2015 and then annually thereafter.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending
  • Estimated Completion Date: March 2015
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Justice, Department of

To ensure that it meets its goal of eliminating the historical backlog of reviewing firearms owners by the end of 2016, Justice should manage its staff resources to continually address the backlog, and should notify the Legislature if it believes that it will not be able to fully process this backlog by its goal date. To help guide this effort, Justice should establish benchmarks that will indicate whether it is on track to meet its goal.

Response

The Department continues to work diligently on reducing the historical backlog number. As of October 1, 2014, the historical backlog was at 277,065. In order to eliminate the backlog, staff was notified in September of 2014 that they would need to work 11,500 cases each month to meet the December 2016 deadline. The Department authorized additional overtime and resources necessary to achieve this goal.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented
  • Estimated Completion Date: December 2016
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Justice, Department of

Justice should update and maintain its system documentation for the mental health and APPS databases to ensure that it can efficiently and effectively address modifications and questions about these databases.

Response

The Department reconfirmed with the HDC staff that reestablishing APPS and MHFPS database documentation due to the loss of key personnel, and the number of years that have elapsed is not easily done, and is not a cost effective process. It is estimated that the reestablishing of database documentation would cost the Department an estimated $200,000 in personal services and consultant contracts, and would take approximately 16 to 20 months to be completed, while pushing back other critical data and legislatively mandated system enhancements.

The Department has completed its re-design for the APPS Law Enforcement Interface, which went into production in September of 2014. The vendor and HDC completed the APPS interface re-design, and provided documentation of the database re-design. This re-design provided the Department with streamlined and enhanced data sharing, improved data analysis between systems, and a more robust and technological system.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending
  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Recommendation To: Justice, Department of

To ensure that it fully supports its decision to apply federal prohibition terms to individuals, Justice should review all applicable federal and state laws and continue to seek clarification from the ATF and any other appropriate federal agencies to determine whether California's firearms restoration process meets federal criteria and, if not, why it does not. Justice should issue a report to the Legislature, within one year, detailing the results of its review and, if applicable, communicate why California's restoration process does not meet federal criteria and the impact that it has on prohibited persons who live in California.

Response

The Department is still awaiting a determination from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) regarding a review of California's process for restoration of firearms rights due to mental health prohibitions. The Department sent emails to the BATFE counsel in March, April and October of 2014 requesting to discuss the status of their determination.

  • California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented
  • Estimated Completion Date: October 2014
  • Response Date: October 2014

Current Status of Recommendations

All Recommendations in 2014-041