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Understanding the potential for Multidisciplinary Threat Assessment Teams to prevent terrorism: Conducting a formative evaluation of the MassBay Threat Assessment Team

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Past Project Period End Date
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $488,390)

The goal of this project is to identify a model for how a community-based Multidisciplinary Threat Assessment and Management Team (MTAMT) can operate by identifying and engaging individuals at-risk for radicalization to violence, and then providing them with supportive services that contribute to a reduction in risk for violence (e.g. mental health care). In order to accomplish this goal, the project proposes to conduct a formative evaluation and evaluability assessment of an existing Massachusetts statewide MTAMT in its early stages of operation (MassBayTAT).

The MassBayTAT is a collaboration between the Boston FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, with supporting partnerships from representatives of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, Boston Emergency Services Team, local and state police departments, federal law enforcement agencies, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Massachusetts Department of Education, and the Executive Office of the Trial Courts.

The project will consist of three phases. First, a nationwide environmental scan of existing community-based multidisciplinary threat assessment teams with relevance for terrorism prevention will be conducted. The environmental scan will integrate multiple strategies for data collection, including qualitative interviews, surveys, literature reviews, and review of internal documents. Second, study investigators will use this information to better understand and iteratively enhance MassBayTAT operations through usability testing. Program components will be reveal whether they function as planned and to identify unforeseen issues. This process will guide data-driven decision-making and continuous quality improvement, which will culminate with a finalized logic model. Finally, the last phase of the project will involve a formative evaluation and evaluability assessment, including an evaluation of short-term outcomes of MassBayTAT operations. Both usability testing and formative evaluation will draw on multiple data sources and methods, including observation of team meetings and document/case review, fidelity monitoring, team member surveys, and in-depth case studies.

Anticipated outcomes include a manuscript and report detailing existing community-based MTAMT efforts, briefs describing core operating practices and principles of relevant MTAMTs, and a detailed logical model and operating manual for the MassBayTAT. This formative evaluation and evaluability assessment aims to lay the foundation for the development of a rigorous future outcomes evaluation to assess the effectiveness of the MassBayTAT for the prevention of terrorism.

Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2020