News: Treinen, DSHS deliver new Background Check Application system

Custom-built application will increase efficiency, speed up results and reduce error rate on background checks


CONTACT: Sarah Stewart, Marketing Coordinator

July 9, 2018


OLYMPIA, Wash. – Treinen, an IT and management consulting company based in Olympia, and its subcontractor, Kiehl Northwest of Tumwater, released a new background check application on June 26 that was custom built by the team over more than two years for the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The Background Check System (BCS) is used by DSHS to perform more than 300,000 background checks every year on people who work with vulnerable adults and children throughout the state.

“We are very excited to release this critical new system that will help ensure DSHS knows exactly who is working with vulnerable populations like people with disabilities and foster children,” said Will Treinen, CEO of Treinen. “Our team put a lot of passion and energy into ensuring we did this right. I’m proud of them for getting through the obstacles that every IT project faces. Treinen is pleased to put our name on this product and we look forward to working with DSHS to further refine the system to meet the needs of our client and their customers.”

The previous system, the Criminal History System (CHS), was built in 1995 and was modified numerous times to meet changing legislative mandates, organizational needs, and to automate manual processes. Most background checks were submitted by mail or fax requiring staff to input data and sort forms into work queues. The fax system experienced issues almost daily requiring frequent support from the DSHS as well as Washington Technology Services (WaTech), and other contracted vendors. Further, CHS was maintained in a non-standard 32-bit environment requiring special environmental configuration and network access to provide maintenance.

BCS was developed and rigorously tested on the Microsoft Stack with Team Foundation Server (TFS).  With BCS, applicants submit their application online with an electronic signature, entities retrieve the applications and submit them all online, and DSHS processes them. Once the system is stabilized, the turnaround time to get background check results to an entity is expected to dramatically drop. In addition, the algorithms to match applicants to existing records have been refined to ensure the system presents all the best potential hits for staff to review.

Treinen and Kiehl’s team varied in size through different phases of the project, but in total nine people from the partnership of the two companies worked on the design, development and implementation of the project. The contractor team provided project management, business analysis, interface design, solution architecture, database analysis and design, development and testing. In addition, five people were a part of the project team from DSHS to provide project management, business analysis, subject matter expertise and testing. Treinen and DSHS’s Background Check Central Unit (BCCU) co-located to work together closely on the Agile project.

“Developing the BCS for us was an extremely challenging project that had been previously attempted, with all prior attempts ending in failure. Fortunately, Treinen and Kiehl Northwest were up to the task.  They took care of business and turned out an outstanding product,” said Kerry Breen, BCCU Chief. “Throughout the course of development, the Treinen Team displayed a high level of professionalism, experience, dedication, and commitment to quality. The Team was always solution oriented and overcame numerous challenges during the duration of the project. I genuinely appreciated Will Treinen’s personal involvement, availability, and commitment to this great success.”

The application was developed during 23 sprints in which the team iterated through each cycle with design, requirements, development and testing. After development and testing by Treinen, DSHS and several entities that request background checks performed User Acceptance Testing of the system to ensure it was built according to specifications and user needs.

BCS interfaces with the Washington State Patrol, two DSHS administrations, the Administrative Office of the Courts, the Department of Health and a private fingerprint vendor. The application uses Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to communicate with other agencies.

“This project was one of the first with a co-located Agile team that worked through numerous challenges on the fly to deliver the final system,” said Joe Rueter, Technical Lead and Treinen project manager on the BCS project. “The application itself is already being talked about all over state government for its advanced technology. The application uses Web API to isolate communication between the user interface, multiple interfaces with partner agencies and the backend to provide a highly secure system. We are proud of this application and look forward to using our lessons learned on future projects.”

The application consists of three main parts: a public applicant form electronically signed by the applicant; the main BCS application that public and private entities use to request background checks on applicants and that BCCU uses to process the background checks; and an administrative site for managing users and the system itself.

BCS had rigorous security requirements due to the private data and criminal history displayed in the system. The system also receives fingerprint information from the FBI, which added a layer of security to ensure it was CJIS compliant. Everyone who worked on the project had to pass a background check, sign a confidentiality form and complete CJIS training. Both BCCU and entity users have different layers of permissions depending on their CJIS training status, proficiency with processing checks and the administrative group they belong to.

Treinen began the BCS project with DSHS in February 2016 after a competitive bid process and will continue to provide maintenance and operations on BCS for one year to ensure DSHS is fully trained to use and maintain the system.

“Our goal on every engagement is to ensure our clients can succeed with their new systems and processes long after we have completed a project. We see BCS as a major accomplishment for our team and our partnership with Kiehl,” said Treinen. “We have learned a lot during this process and look forward to seeing this application used for a long time by DSHS.”




For more than 15 years, Treinen has provided premier management and IT consulting in the Northwest. We deliver value to our clients and their customers by focusing on their needs and providing them with the best resources to get the job done.