The OBS System


The Offender Banking System (OBS) is a comprehensive software system that manages offender funds, trust account obligations, offender restitution, and a canteen inventory management and sales tracking system for canteen items sold to offenders and staff. The OBS system is based on a commercial software product used by the Federal Bureau of Prisons and several of state correctional system but has been extensively customized by the vendor using subject matter expert teams and user feedback gained from both field testing and operational lessons learned. 

Offender accounts in the OBS system are established through the processing of a file received daily from the department’s Offender Management System (OMS). Each night system comparisons are made between prior day offender information and new offender data from the OMS system. Based on differences found between the files new offender accounts are created in OBS, update existing offender information, mark accounts to be "released." Offenders not assigned to a predefined system specific location identifier are assigned to the ADM location which is responsible for the management and collection of restitution and other community based fees. 

All ‘offender accounts’ are rolled up into one consolidated 700 Fund Trust Account for the daily reporting of transactional data to the State Treasure and Office of State Finance. 

System Design Goals

  • Streamline the procurement and management of canteen inventory at all department canteen locations.

  • Eliminate effort to manage the ‘canteen draw’ by incorporating a real-time interface between canteen sales and trust accounting activities.

  • Provide tools to effectively manage offender funds held in trust by the department.

  • Automate offender payroll functions and debt collections.

  • Reduce staff time required to respond to internal and external requests for information and provide organization-wide reporting capabilities.

  • Provide a framework to allow electronic funds acceptance and transfers in the future and support other electronic interface capabilities.

System of Record
The department uses a variety of software systems that serve specific purposes with each system housing unique data. It is important that each one of these systems retain ownership or "system of record" for their respective data with respect to the OBS system. Software systems can effectively share their data without compromising the system of record concept as long as one and only one system allows their ‘owned data’ to be entered or updated.11 

OBS serves as the ‘system of record’ for all offender trust fund accounting data. OBS receives its offender management information from the department’s Offender Management System, however no functionality exist in OBS to update any of the information in OMS. OMS data is updated in OBS through a nightly system interface process. 

OBS Application 
OBS is a client-server application. The OBS system runs under Microsoft Windows on a local work station that has installed on it the OBS system. However, all the data entered or viewed comes from a centrally located system server which stores the data. For instance, when opening a screen, the computer is accessing the application on the user’s workstation to display the screen itself while all data that is displayed on the screen come from the central server. The OBS server has both an immediate backup server for system redundancy and a disaster recovery site server. 

Central versus Local Data 
The OBS system is designed to maximize consistency among institutions while still preserving flexibility for institutions to address different business processes. To accomplish this goal, OBS was designed with two screen groupings: central and local. 

Central screens affect all institutions. Examples of central screens are: "control parameters", "item maintenance", "fund source type", "income type", "obligation type", "withdrawal type", etc. These central screens affect all institutions through a process called organizational parameter update. Central screens are only accessible through the ADM location. 

Local screens affect organizational locations. Examples of local screens are: "purchase orders", "offender income screens", "offender withdrawal screens" etc. Data entered for all organizational locations is kept separate for OBS location use but can be accessed in aggregate for centralize reporting and certain central office functions. 

Web Base and Ad Hoc Reporting 
The OBS system also includes a web-based reporting mechanism for the collection of probation and parole supervision fees and restitution payments. Probation officers can access this secure web base reporting system without having to have OBS software installed on their computer. OBS also has Ad Hoc reporting capabilities for users specifically trained in the extraction of system information using Microsoft Access.12 

User Assistance 
User assistance is available via ‘On-line’; through the ‘User Guide’; and through direct staff support. Additionally, vendor support is available to address issues and answer via the maintenance contract through the department’s contract relationship manager. 

On-line Support 
OBS on-line support is immediately available by pressing F1 while any screen is open. Pressing F1brings up a view and description of the screen to include system rules related to the use of that screen. 

OBS User’s Guide
This guide is specifically targeted to assist users in the application of the OBS system to their specific business requirements. As such, this guide is more business practice specific than on-line support screens. 

Direct Staff Support 
Users are encouraged to contact central office staff for assistance when needed. The OBS contract ‘relationship manager’, when required, will be the point of contact for seeking vendor assistance. Use of the department’s ‘HelpStar’ system is encouraged for IT related questions.

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