Bids Sought for National Clean Slate Clearinghouse

Last November President Obama announced plans to create a National Clean Slate Clearinghouse, a joint project between the Departments of Labor and Justice that would “build capacity for legal services needed to help with record-cleaning, expungement, and related civil legal services.”  In late February the Labor Department announced plans for a large-scale contract to establish the Clearinghouse, and sought information from likely bidders.  Since then, we have been curious about what the scope of the Clearinghouse project would be. Now we know.

This past Monday the Department of Labor issued an official solicitation for bids to develop the Clearinghouse, with the following general overview of the project:

The Clearinghouse will: 1) gather content, launch, host and update a national website that provides, among other things, state-by-state information on sealing, expungement, and other related legal services that lessen the negative impact of having juvenile and criminal records; and 2) develop tools and provide technical assistance to reentry service providers and legal aid organizations on how to use and expand access to sealing, expungement, and other legal services. The Clearinghouse will disseminate information in the area of record sealing and expungement, pardons, certificates of rehabilitation, correcting inaccurate juvenile and criminal records and other strategies to diminish the often lifelong economic and social consequences associated with having a juvenile or criminal record. In addition, the Clearinghouse will provide guidance on the removal of other employment barriers that do not provide a public safety benefit.

The Clearinghouse footprint is expected to be quite large, given the $11 million funding cap that is attached to the project, and the 13-person staff called for in the solicitation. While the contract is only for one year, there are options for two additional years. The scale of the funding suggests that the IT and legal research aspects of the project (developing a website to disseminate information about relief mechanisms) will be comparatively small when measured against its technical assistance aspects (building capacity among service providers and practitioners in the field through teams of experts).  We believe that it is as important to work on expanding legal relief mechanisms as it is to facilitating access to mechanisms that already exist.

The specific requirements of the contract are summarized below:

• Convening a technical working group (TWG) of experts to advise the project.
• Identifying and cataloging service providers in each state.
• Researching and documenting state/national record mitigation mechanisms.
• Collecting existing local/state/national resources regarding record mitigation.
• Creating and maintaining a national website that provides access to local/state/national information on record mitigation. “At a minimum the features of the site will provide state-by-state information on sealing, expungement, and other related legal services that lessen the negative impact of having juvenile and criminal records.”
• Providing technical assistance and training to service providers and policy-makers on the availability of record mitigation mechanisms.
• Using research to create accessible tools for use by service providers.
• Developing virtual and in-person educational and networking opportunities for service providers, including national conference presentations and the development of a national training event.

Competitive applicants should have experience in the following areas:

• Bringing together diverse stakeholders through a Technical Working Group (TWG) to understand the scope of the project and make recommendations about the processes and plans for the site.
• Identifying state and national organizations with primary and secondary resources on record mitigation, expungement/sealing.
• Developing website content and plans for developing and integrating content into the site and linking to and complementing federally-supported websites such as the National Reentry Resource Center and the National Inventory of the Collateral Consequences of Conviction,
• Providing technical assistance to organizations that serve individuals with juvenile and criminal records such as legal aid service providers, advocacy organizations, and community based organizations, etc.
• Incorporating an outreach mechanism that will effectively engage the network of organizations that individuals with juvenile and criminal records.
• Securing additional resources to maintain and sustain the Clearinghouse past the life of the contract.

Because the Clearinghouse is being bid as a contract and thus is subject to the Federal Acquisition Regulations, data and all deliverables produced under the contract will be the property of the federal government. However, the RFP states that “[w]e envision this website and training resources living beyond the 3 year period of performance.”  Proposals must contain “a sustainability plan for maintaining content resources once the formal contract has ended,” and the contractor will be responsible for proposing “a strategy for securing resources to maintain and sustain the site.plans for securing resources to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project.”

The deadline for proposals is May 16 at 2 p.m.. The full solicitation is available here.

Remember that while you’re waiting for the Clearinghouse to come together you can always obtain up-to-date information on the availability of pardon, expungement, sealing, and other record mitigation mechanisms in each U.S. jurisdiction by viewing the state-specific restoration of rights guides hosted right here on this site!