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Konica Minolta ECM Blog

What Public Records Access Non-Compliance Looks LIKE

Posted by Cindy Bialy on Thu, Mar 29, 2018 @ 12:25 PM

I just finished reading an article in the Providence Journal, “Town settles suit over records access.”  In this article, it stated the Town of North Kingston, RI agreed to pay a fine as they acknowledged it violated the state’s Access to Public Records Act (APRA) a year ago.  It got me thinking that if a small Rhode Island town such as North Kingston was fined, what calamities are happening at the city, county state and federal levels.  This inspired me to write about it, knowing the perfect solution exists right here in the Konia Minolta storehouse of Information Management offerings.

To begin to understand how requests can slip through the cracks or mistakes are made, let me recap this article and use it as a simple example of an APRA breach of compliance.

What happened?

A former School Committee member sent an email seeking information about a School Committee request to transfer money out of its budget.  He received no reply. He then filedperson a complaint with the Attorney General’s office, which, in turn, filed suit against the town in Superior Court.

Under APRA, a public body must supply the requested documents within 10 business days or seek a 20-day extension.  If a request is denied, the reason must be sent within 10 days. 

The town only responded after the School Committee member filed his APRA complaint with the Attorney General’s office.  The original request had been overlooked in the pending resignation of the town finance director.  The Attorney General’s office, however, found the town in violation and announced in a news release that the town acknowledged the violation, agreed to pay the fine, and settle the suit.

Does it seem harsh to you?  It does to me.  BUT, it is a state and federal mandate.

So how do government agencies cope with the overwhelming amount of requests, tight deadlines to meet these requests, the unexpected occurrences such as resignations, and the usual lost or misplaced paperwork/information?

We recommend our Public Records Request solution. With this solution, you simplify create a request submission and it follows a workflow until fulfillment.  From simple, automated online request capabilities and comprehensive record searches to digital delivery, our Public Records Request solution  improves the process from beginning to end. The solution tracks and stores all information surrounding a request as well, so any time an audit comes up, it’s easy to demonstrate that your organization completed requests within the legal timeframes. With a digital solution to record your requests and activity, you get the transparency and speed your constituents expect for completing public records request.

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We love this solution as it allows the government agencies to meet its responsibilities of safeguarding and providing public records – despite budget cuts and staff reductions- and to use a phased in approach. This Information Management system allows governments to start with a basic system to fulfill immediate needs and then ramp up the system’s capacity when cost allows or demand increases.

Need to see for yourself how an automated Public Records solution can help your government entity complete timely records requests without using additional staff?  Contact us now for a complimentary demo.

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Tags: Document Scanners, OnBase workflow, Workflow, go paperless, enterprise content management,, government, Records Management

The Pathway to Faster Public Records Fulfillment

Posted by Cindy Bialy on Tue, Aug 22, 2017 @ 02:46 PM

dreamstime_5865029 (3).jpgMore than ever before, government officials feel increased pressure to provide easy access to public records and often face mandates for fulfilling requests. Unfortunately, an overreliance on paper-based and manual public records request fulfillment makes meeting request deadlines difficult. Hunting down documents from multiple departments, locations and filing cabinets puts a strain on government staff and leads to lengthy fulfillment cycles. Given the increase in public requests and the scrutiny from the federal government to provide the public with better access to records, there is no doubt constituents want more access to public records while government expectations increase.

To address this situation, many agencies have decided to use an enterprise content management (ECM) system to digitize records. The challenge of finding records is overcome by providing a single, central and electronic repository to store and retrieve records.

With an ECM solution such as OnBase, you are ensured a complete search and a full list of documents that meet that request, whether the request is submitted online or by paper request. Keyword and full-text searches allow the clerk staff to find documents, easily saving staff time and money and making the processing of requests faster. With OnBase redaction tools, you protect any sensitive or confidential data on documents before delivering the request.

dreamstime_l_17691204 (1).jpgOnce a public request is submitted online or by other methods, requests enter a workflow so OnBase can automatically route them to the correct department for review, assignment and fulfillment. OnBase eliminates manual methods to track the request, logging the requests, staff fulfillment assignment, compiling documents into packets, redact confidential information and even sending electronically to the requestor or posting to a portal. Staff is notified of new requests and those in need of immediate attention. Deadlines are easily met without worrying about fines or other penalties for noncompliance.

Additionally, OnBase equips you with reporting dashboards that describe and identify bottlenecks. Dashboards report on many areas – open requests, request types, assigned departments and more – allowing better management of tasks and increased visibility into types of requests, number of requests and information being requested.

With the OnBase solution, you simplify request submission and fulfillment. From online request capabilities and comprehensive record searches to digital delivery, OnBase improves the process from beginning to end.

Tags: Document Management, Paperless Office, OnBase, ECM, OnBase workflow, Workflow, government

OnBase ECM Provides Speedy Public Records Request Fulfillment

Posted by Cindy Bialy on Wed, Jul 19, 2017 @ 02:30 PM

Many county and city clerks embrace technology to deliver paperless agendas and provide meeting videos online, but they struggle with the public records request obligation. Increasing records requests and predatory records requests — along with lack of staff — all add to the challenge of meeting this legal responsibility. 

ECM Challenges

The mismatch between the increasing number of requests and staff availability isn’t the only barrier clerks face. Unlike records management, a record request can ask for just about anything. Hunting down paper documents from multiple departments, locations and file cabinets puts a burden on government staff and leads to lengthy fulfillment cycles.

When you add up these challenges, it’s clear that clerks can’t meet request deadlines and responsibilities to fulfill all the requests. The only reasonable course for clerks is to implement and encourage technology that addresses these challenges and restores control to the individuals who have this legal obligation.

You can find meet these challenges with an enterprise content management (ECM) solution like Hyland Onbase, one of our strategic partners. OnBase by Hyland combines capture options, automation and reporting, and a central repository for records in a single package. It provides all of the features that your city/county clerk needs, including:

· Instant capture

Ensure all documents and records are captured and stored immediately upon creation through scanning, electronic forms or archiving emails and attachments.

· One single, central and electronic location to store records

By providing a central location to store records, you save staff time as they no longer are digging through filing cabinets or offsite storage sites. They can now search for records electronically using keyword and full-text searches. With a central repository, you are ensured a complete search and a full list of documents that meet the request.

· Move requests online an automate the process

Today’s constituents expect speedy fulfillment of requests and to be able to conduct those requests online. By moving to a web submission process, requests are never lost, are instantly routed for attention, and are tracked via electronic workflow management.

· Use of reporting dashboards

Paperless ECM Solutions

Once you automate you can identify bottlenecks, allowing better management of tasks and reasons for slow fulfillment.

Access to public records is a cornerstone of an open, transparent government and the OnBase Public Records Request solution provides your organization with the tools it needs to quickly complete records’ requests so you can successfully fulfill your legal obligation. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, then please Contact Us. We would love to help.

Tags: Document Management, OnBase, ECM, OnBase workflow, Workflow, document capture, government

Efficiency and Records Management - Why ECM Handles Both

Posted by Terri Jones on Fri, Aug 07, 2015 @ 10:23 AM

public-records-1368242928-1-s-307x512Responsibility for maintaining public records is a serious one, and it is one of the oldest responsibilities of local government. Maintaining records has included binding title records, archiving records series in boxes and using microfilm and microfiche to preserve information despite the limitations of paper.

Fast forward to today. The responsibility to manage and preserve records survives, but the way we do business as a government is changing. We are asked to do the same work with less staff and we are originating and conducting business through self-service and increasingly, without paper. The paperless world is also essential to meeting the expectations of our constituents who have grown up online, using social media and apps in all aspects of their lives.

This presents a problem if your records management process is geared towards a paper world. On the other hand, efficiency and reduced cost are essential for today's local government and creating paperless processes is a key driver for both. So how can records' responsibilities and the drive for efficient government be balanced? What if a single solution can improve efficiency throughout government and improve and support your records management effectiveness?

workflow

This is why so many local governments are using enterprise content management (ECM) to meet both needs, and why meeting both needs with a single solution makes sense. Consider the following:

Before something becomes a record, it is often a document moving through a process. ECM features workflow automation that routes documents, provides process transparency and speeds work. This supports faster and cheaper government

ECM encourages early capture of documents and this will make the job of records manager easier because it eliminates the loss of documents that need to be preserved as records downstream. This is a great support for records management.

ECM solutions have the ability to manage a record from the moment it is stored into the solution. This means that staff do not need to decide if something is a record. The solution does that for them and this means that you can be confident about your records preservation.

Another key piece of records management responsibilities is the need to fulfill public records requests. Preservation is only one piece of the workload. ECM solutions excel at fast and comprehensive search. This same search, which makes local government staff so efficient, can make it easier and faster for staff to respond to and provide complete records request packages. And, while using ECM at this moment make a complete search fast, using ECM "upstream" means that you can be confident that you have preserved the documents. Once a document is archived into the ECM repository, it is not only designated a record, it is secure and preserved.

scalability_351x238Finally, the scalability of ECM means that all future records are stored in a single place. This makes the search for records so much easier than a search that might require file cabinets, offsite bankers' boxes, staff desks and even multiple locations. The efficiency of searching a single place is obvious, but meeting a request with a complete package is a legal requirement made easy by the single repository of an ECM solution.

In the past, we considered microfilm and microfiche our records management solution. While these may have satisfied the preservation imperative, today's local government needs solutions that drive efficiency, are scalable and usable by all departments. ECM meets those needs, but records managers should consider the above and recognize that ECM can provide key "upstream" benefits while making their lives easier. ECM makes local government more efficient and responsive and it does this while supporting records responsibilities. ECM can handle both and local government can make a single solution purchase to meet both needs.

Tags: Paperless Office, BPM, ECM, Workflow, government

ECM Boosts Efficiency in the Government Sector

Posted by Brianna Smith on Fri, Feb 20, 2015 @ 03:22 PM

government-sectorAre you a government agency looking for a way to regain control of your operations by streamlining your processes and managing the documents and digital content that drive those processes? If so, then an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, like OnBase, can help. The OnBase solution does away with paper, ultimately creating a paperless system where documents and files become simple to retrieve. 

An ECM solution can be implemented in a number of different types of agencies as well, including Commissioners, Clerks of Courts, County Engineers, District Attorneys, Domestic Relation Courts, Health Departments, Juvenile Courts, Job and Family Services, Legal Departments, Mental Health Services, and more!

But what really sets our ECM solution apart from the rest? By utilizing our enterprise content management solution for government, agencies are better able to meet the common challenges of smaller staffs and budgets by laying the groundwork for more streamlined, efficient and mobile government information technology. Who wouldnt want this type of technology on their side?

Still not convinced? Other ways our solution comes out on top include:

  1. Government_Public_sectorUnified Capture is a tool that enables users to submit documents in the way that makes the most sense for them, be it online, via fax, through the mail or over the counter. Whatever the capture method, our government solutions ensure that the information you need from those documents is extracted, stored and presented to your users in a way that lets them do their jobs more efficiently.

  1. Public Document Access & Filing - Who knows how many hours are wasted manually servicing requests for public records. Our solution enables constituents to access permitted records as well as providing the facility to users to submit documents without another trip to the facility.

  1. Workflow & Process Management ensures that the documents and content your organization is relying on doesn't sit stagnant in an electronic holding pen. Document and processes move in concert according to the business rules your organizations define. When something slows down, gets held up and throws out an exception - youre notified immediately and can remedy the situation before the exception becomes a problem.

  1. Security, Tracking & Audit - Our solution keeps track of almost every conceivable action that happens inside your Enterprise Content Management solution.

  1. integrationApplication Integration means the content you are managing flows in and out of the Case Management, ERP, Medical Information, Legal, Back-Office, Project Management, Real Estate, GIS or Justice systems that your users work with every day. Whether your users are working at the transaction, ticket, case, project or program level, we understand how vital it is that documents and metadata can be accessed with a couple of clicks or taps.

Interested in learning more about our ECM solutions for government agencies? Contact us! Wed be happy to help.

 

Tags: BPM, OnBase, ECM, Workflow, government