Criminal History Information Exchange Format (CHIEF)


In 1995, the National Task Force on Increasing the Utility of the Criminal History Record recommended creation of a standard transmission format for the interstate sharing of CHRI data. The task force determined improvements were needed to normalize the variety of formats, content and terminology that made it difficult for out-of-state users, and particularly noncriminal justice users, to decipher CHRI records.

Subsequently, a Joint Task Force on Rap Sheet Standardization (JTF) was formed to develop a standardized criminal history transmission format, which would support a greater range of data and which would be easier to comprehend. In the past ten years, the JTF produced an extensible Markup Language (XML) based transmission specifications that has been adopted by numerous states and the FBI.

Version 3.01 of the JTF Rap Sheet, conforming to the Global Justice XML Data Model (GJXDM), was published by the FBI via Nlets programming. In 2009, a Version 4.0 Rap Sheet, conforming to the National Information Exchange Model (NIEM), was developed, tested and published.


The FBI and several states throughout the nation exchange either GJXDM or NIEM version of the Rap Sheet, with Nlets providing a transformation service that translates one XML version to another, facilitating standardized CHRI content among the states. In 2011, the JTF will complete and publish a Version 4.1 Rap Sheet, which incorporates 36 new or revised components, including synchronization with the FBI's Electronic Biometric Transmission Specification, and additional elements to support exchange of structured supervision and sentencing information. Nlets is developing corollary transformation services among all of the XML versions, so states and the FBI can continue to consume standardized criminal histories without impact from versioning and a common FBI-Nlets web services specification that promotes a standardized mechanism for secure messaging among the states and federal data exchange partners.

This project continues the work to support interstate criminal history exchange, better statistical analysis of offenders, and the vision of a safer public, not just within our borders, but throughout our hemisphere.


  • Continue to support the objectives of the JTF, including face-toface and virtual meetings and telecommunications
  • Continue to serve as developer and custodian of the national standard Rap Sheet technical specifications, software artifacts and documentation
  • In conjunction with the FBI, continue to serve as developer and custodian of a common Web Services Specification to facilitate the exchange of criminal history and biometric information among the states and federal partners over the Nlets network.
  • Continue to develop, test and provide XML transformation services among all JTF Rap Sheet versions via the Nlets NJIN.
  • Promote and support, with project management, and financial and technical assistance, the implementation of XML Rap Sheets conforming to one of the JTF standards (3.01, 4.0, 4.1, or 4.#) in up to ten additional states, which will be assessed for readiness.


A uniform criminal history record format has never been made mandatory. Likewise, no mandatory guidelines regarding the content of criminal history records have ever been promulgated. Standardized Rap Sheets will improve the effectiveness of nearly every justice and public safety professional in the nation. It will make these professionals more efficient while saving lives by avoiding terrible mistakes because misinterpretation of out-of-state codes. CHIEF benefits include:

  • More accurate and timely ID of persons prohibited from firearm purchase or ineligible to hold positions of responsibility involving children, the elderly, or the disabled.
  • Better data for making decisions on detention, pre-trial release, appropriate charge enhancement, determinate sentencing, and correctional intake classification.
  • Streamlined background checks for national security, employment, licensing and related economic purposes, as required under recent federal regulation.
  • Improved statistical analysis of the efficacy of supervision conditions and offender participation in treatment programs.