Section 167A. (a) There shall be within the executive office a department of criminal justice information services which shall be under the supervision and control of a commissioner. The commissioner shall be appointed by the secretary and shall be a person of skill and experience in the field of criminal justice. The commissioner shall be the executive and administrative head of the department and shall be responsible for administering and enforcing the provisions of law relative to the department and to each administrative unit thereof. The commissioner shall serve at the pleasure of the secretary, shall receive such salary as may be determined by law and shall devote his full time to the duties of his office. In the case of an absence or vacancy in the office of the commissioner, or in the case of disability as determined by the secretary, the secretary may designate an acting commissioner to serve as commissioner until the vacancy is filled or the absence or disability ceases. The acting commissioner shall have all the powers and duties of the commissioner and shall have similar qualifications as the commissioner. The commissioner shall not be subject to the provisions of chapter 31 or section 9A of chapter 30.
(b) The commissioner may appoint such persons, including experts and consultants, as he shall deem necessary to perform the functions of the department. The provisions of chapter 31 and section 9A of chapter 30 shall not apply to any person holding any such appointment. Every person so appointed to any position in the department shall have experience and skill in the field of such position. So far as practicable in the judgment of the commissioner, appointments to such positions in the department shall be made by promoting or transferring employees of the commonwealth serving in positions which are classified under chapter 31 and such appointments shall at all times reflect the professional needs of the administrative unit affected. If an employee serving in a position which is classified under chapter 31 or in which an employee has tenure by reason of said section 9A of said chapter 30 shall be appointed to a position within the department which is not subject to said chapter 31, the employee shall, upon termination of his service in such position, be restored to the position which he held immediately prior to such appointment; provided, however, that his service in such position shall be determined by the civil service commission in accordance with the standards applied by said commission in administering said chapter 31. Such restoration shall be made without impairment of civil service status or tenure under said section 9A of said chapter 30 and without loss of seniority, retirement or other rights to which uninterrupted service in such prior position would have entitled the employee. During the period of such appointment, each person so appointed from a position in the classified civil service shall be eligible to take any competitive promotional examination for which he would otherwise have been eligible.
(c) The department shall provide for and exercise control over the installation, operation and maintenance of data processing and data communication systems, hereinafter called the public safety information system, which shall include, but shall not be limited to, the criminal justice information system. The system shall be designed to ensure the prompt collection, exchange, dissemination and distribution of such public safety information as may be necessary for the efficient administration and operation of criminal justice agencies and to connect such systems directly or indirectly with similar systems in this or other states. The department shall be responsible for all data processing, management of the public safety information system, supervision of all personnel associated with the system and the appointment of all such personnel.
(d) The department shall provide access to the public safety information system to criminal justice agencies, as defined in section 167. The department may, subject to chapter 30A, hear and investigate complaints pertaining to misuse of the public safety information system and issue sanctions and penalties for misuse. The commissioner may refer complaints for further review to the criminal record review board, any state or federal agency or prosecuting authority.
(e) The department may, in consultation with the board, adopt rules and regulations for: (i) the implementation, administration and enforcement of this section; (ii) the control, installation and operation of the public safety information system accessed and utilized by criminal justice agencies; (iii) the collection, storage, access, dissemination, content organization and use of fingerprint-based checks of the state and national criminal history databases; and (iv) the collection, storage, access, dissemination, content, organization and use of criminal offender record information by requestors; provided, however, any consumer reporting agency accessing the criminal offender record information from the department shall be deemed in compliance with any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder so long as its applicable policies are in compliance with the state and federal Fair Credit Reporting Acts.
(f) The department shall ensure that no backlog of criminal offender records requests develop that impedes the processing of necessary information related to employment, housing and other essential activities and services. If a backlog develops, the commissioner shall report the nature of the backlog and its impact on services to the secretary of public safety and shall take action to remediate the cause of the backlog.
(g) The department may enter into contracts and agreements with, and accept gifts, grants, contributions and bequests of funds from, any department, agency or subdivision of federal, state, county or municipal government and any individual, foundation, corporation, association, or public authority for the purpose of providing or receiving services, facilities or staff assistance in connection with its work. Such funds shall be deposited with the state treasurer and may be expended by the department in accordance with the conditions of the gift, grant, contribution or bequest, without specific appropriation.
(h) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the department shall transmit to the attorney general of the United States any information in its control required or permitted under federal law to be included in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or any successor system maintained for the purpose of conducting background checks for firearms sales or licensing. No more information than is necessary for the purposes stated above shall be transmitted, and such information shall not be considered a public record under clause Twenty-sixth of section 7 of chapter 4 and section 10 of chapter 66.