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Data Quality Undermines Accountability in Conservatorship Cases

NCJ Number
Brenda K. Uekert; Kathryn Holt; Kathryn Genthon; Karen Roberto; Chris Grogg; Lori Stiegel; Cate Boyko; Erica Wood; Dari Pogach
Date Published
September 2018
6 pages

This seventh in a series of eight Background Briefs on the scope and impact of conservator exploitation of elderly victims and how courts can improve their identification and response to such exploitation focuses on ways in which relevant data quality can improve accountability in conservatorship cases before a court.


This Brief notes a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAC) issued in November 2016, which concluded that "the extent of elder abuse by guardians nationally is unknown due to limited data on the number of guardians serving older adults, older adults in guardianships, and cases of elder abuse by a guardian." This report, however, notes two promising related developments. In one development, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has created the National Adult Maltreatment Reporting System (NAMRS), which is designed as a national reporting system for Adult Protective Services (APS) programs. NAMRS has the potential to determine the extent of reports of financial exploitation by a substitute decisionmaker, including a guardian or conservator. In a second promising development, the Minnesota Judicial Branch has developed transaction-level software (MyMNConservator) and centralized auditing of conservatorship accountings. The National Center for State Courts (NCSC partnered with Minnesota on the Conervatorship Accountability Project, which examined the use of analytically-based risk indicators as a predictor of a subset of problematic accountings. In addition, NCSC is working with several states in piloting a similar software approach. The goal is to modernize the system and develop tools that courts can use to direct resources to cases with a high risk of financial exploitation. This Brief notes barriers to reporting quality data in such cases and outlines next steps. 1 figure and 1 table