In a move to shore up program resources and turbo-charge standards development, the National Multi Housing Council has partnered with Kroll Factual Data to provide ongoing tech support and developmental assistance for the Multifamily Information and Transactions Standards (MITS) initiative.

MITS, which moved from internal management at NMHC to an outsourced partnership with Evergreen Solutions last fall, was facing budgetary constraints due to the economy when Kroll offered to perform the tech support and development role free-of-charge, according to NMHC vice president of technology David Cardwell, who adds that Evergreen remains an active and integral member of the MITS team.

"The partnership will bring Kroll's extensive resources and technical expertise to the MITS data standard initiative and allow the effort to meet the growing needs for development and implementation of the data transfer standards," Cardwell says. "Kroll stepped forward to provide these services without direct compensation and will allow the effort to move forward without any disruption during a time of diminished resources."

A MITS team member for four years, Kroll is a subsidiary of the larger MMC group of companies chosen to update electronic security for the Sears Tower following 9/11 and contracted to cyber-sleuth the location of millions of dollars in oil revenues electronically cached by deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein. The firm continues to provide electronic security and risk management services for several sovereign governments.

More importantly, Kroll Factual Data is well versed in the development and application of real estate technological standards. "They were actively involved with the residential and commercial maintenance standard setting for the Mortgage Bankers Standards Association called MISMO," Cardwell explains. "They understand XML and the standards setting processes, procedures, and protocol. Plus they were already engaged as a member of MITS. They know this stuff and have hit the ground running."

Established in 2002, and now on version 3.0, MITS supports data standards designed to make it easier for cross-platform industry software and systems to communicate. The MITS initiative covers a range of key apartment processes, including resident screening, property marketing, and physical asset management.

In addition to providing technical oversight and support to MITS users, Kroll will assist in the MITS 2009 initiatives, which include developing new standards to address accounts payable, affordable housing, and maintenance functions. "This is a natural extension of our long-term support of the MITS initiative," said Kroll senior vice president of sales and specialty services Damon Littlejohn in a statement. "We look forward to working with MITS to make Kroll Factual Data's technical expertise available to MITS users and to help develop the next generation of MITS standards."

At least two MITS member firms?Atlanta-based multifamily credit bureau RentBureau and Boston-based resident screening firm RentGrow ?will likely look to immediately implement those next-generation capabilities. The firms announced a cross-platform partnership on March 3 that will integrate RentBureau's proprietary rental history data with RentGrow's TotalScreen resident screening solution.

"We've always taken a neutral data position from the beginning," says Rent Bureau president Eric Hartz. "We want to provide our data directly to any multifamily screening companies that want to work with us. RentGrow has taken the lead on that integration, and there are others to follow."

Cardwell thinks the velocity the MITS 2009 initiative should enable similar integration success stories across the industry. "The partnership with Kroll should take MITS to the next level," he says. "It has made our 2009, and we're pretty gassed about continuing work on the program."