Automating Performance-based Standards

Posted by Brendan Donahue
January 08, 2014

Performance-based Standards (PbS) participants are leading reforms across the country through their dedication to measuring and using data to make sure they provide the highest-quality services and programs. They also commit to collecting a tremendous amount of information to build a comprehensive picture of their programs.  Last October alone participants collected data from more than 10,000 incident reports and over 4,000 youth records and entered that information into the PbS website.  PbS has been working to make that process easier and have recently made available an Application Programming Interface (API) aimed at doing so.

Quite often staff will enter the same information into multiple information systems.  For example, if an incident occurs at a facility, that incident may be reportable to a state agency reporting system and also reportable to the PbS system. 

The API is a tool to allow two applications to interact with one another. In the above example it would be the state agency information system and the PbS system.  An application (a small program) would need to be written to handle the in-between.  Think of this process as building a robot that can handle all of the data entry that the direct care staff is currently doing.  The robot gets a username and password to the PbS website, looks up the questions, searches the state agency system for answers to those questions and then enters them back into PbS.

PbS’ API has now been successfully implemented in two states.  The Washington Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration was the first to use the API to automate their youth record data entry.  Recognizing that the case management system used by the agency contained many of the same data fields as PbS, they were able to automate a transfer of data.  They have estimated that the automated process saves them up to 2 hours of staff time per record and seeing as they transferred 360 records between May and October of this year, the cost savings realized becomes staggering.  The team in Washington presented much of what they had learned using the PbS API to other PbS participants on a webinar this past July and immediately several states became interested in learning more.  The Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice became the second state agency to automate a portion of their PbS data entry this past October by transferring 92 incident reports directly from their information system to PbS.

PbS has been offering free consultations with juvenile agencies who are interested in using the API  and the service is included as part of participation in the PbS program with no additional costs.  If you are interested in learning more about using the API or about how PbS can help improve conditions of confinement in your facilities, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and be sure to mention this blog post.