SORNA Implementation Guidance

Since the last issue of SMART Watch, significant progress has been made in SORNA implementation. In fall 2009, the SMART Office found that three jurisdictions (two tribes and one state) have substantially implemented SORNA. Despite this progress, however, much work remains to be done in a short amount of time. The original deadline for jurisdictions to substantially implement SORNA was July 27, 2009. All jurisdictions requested—and received—a 1-year extension to July 26, 2010, and may request an additional 1-year extension, bringing the final implementation deadline to July 26, 2011.

This article provides tips and resources to help your jurisdiction move toward substantial implementation, focusing on issues relating to information sharing and the complex area of tribal-state communications. The article includes the following sections:

Public Sex Offender Registry Website Interface With NSOPW

SORNA requires that every jurisdiction's public sex offender registry website fully participate in the National Sex Offender Public Website (NSOPW). As NSOPW's capacity expands to include additional methods of searching and displaying information (to include geographic radius searches), jurisdictions will need to ensure that all of the necessary registration information is being forwarded to NSOPW, preferably by way of a web service. If a tribe is using the Tribe and Territory Sex Offender Registry System, this interface is automatic. (See Dru Sjodin National Sex Offender Public Website for more information.)

Information Sharing Within the State and With Other Jurisdictions

Information sharing is a core component of SORNA. It is critical to effective investigation, enforcement, and notification. As we review jurisdictions' submissions, we will ask how information is shared within the jurisdiction (from local registry offices to jurisdiction-wide registration officials) and how the jurisdiction plans to exchange information with all of the SORNA registration jurisdictions. It is also important for states to establish information sharing systems with the implementing tribes in their state. We have developed software tools to assist states, territories, and tribes.

Foreign Relocation Procedures

SORNA mandates that the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security and State, develop a system for tracking sex offenders as they enter and depart the United States. Part of the system's tapestry is the SORNA final guidelines requirement that jurisdictions follow certain procedures when registered sex offenders notify them of their intent to relocate to a foreign country. In our review of implementation packages, we will ensure that these procedures are followed.

State/Tribal Interface

Tribes may find it beneficial to enter into memoranda of understanding (MOU) or cooperative agreements with states or county/municipal governments to handle aspects of the registration process or for all registration and notification functions. These types of agreements must be formal and have legal authority. If such MOUs are in place, state and tribal implementation submissions to the SMART Office must include copies of any such agreements and paperwork. In addition, if state law or policy allows for tribes to submit fingerprints, palm prints, and DNA to national databases through state systems, states and tribes should work together to ensure that a formalized process is in place for these submissions. For states that are responsible for sex offender registration and notification on tribal lands, we will be reviewing those states' efforts to include the tribes in their registration and notification systems. For more information on SORNA in Indian Country, please see our article SORNA Implementation Issues in Indian Country in this issue of SMART Watch.


As always, we recommend that jurisdictions contact SMART Office staff for assistance in developing SORNA substantial implementation packages for review. All states, territories, and tribes have an assigned SMART Office policy advisor. If you have questions about SORNA, the final guidelines, or SMART's role, please do not hesitate to contact us.

SMART Office
Office of Justice Programs
U.S. Department of Justice
810 7th Street, NW
Washington, DC 20531
202–616–2906 (fax)
[email protected]