Four Reasons to Automate Public Records Requests
In these volatile times, now more than ever, local governments are leading the effort to keep citizens safe and healthy. For government agencies, automation of the records request process not only creates significant time and resources savings but also reduces errors and the risk of accidental disclosure. Also, computerized access supports the health and safety of counter staff and citizens by limiting contact. Here are four critical reasons why you should be automating your records requests.
Public disclosure requests can be time-consuming- The use of technology such as enterprise content and records management can streamline information identification and compilation, increase efficiency and accuracy of records searches and reduce the amount of manual review by enabling automatic identification of possibly sensitive information so staff can focus on other critical tasks.
The number and scope of information requests are ever-increasing- Municipalities are required to allow access to an ever-growing amount of previously undisclosed records. Hence staff may struggle with the onus to produce the information within strict, and varied timelines mandated by law. Additionally, the soft and hard costs for identifying, collecting, reviewing and producing the disclosure request are high and growing yearly.
The completeness, speed, and defensibility of disclosures are crucial- Essentially, the simplification of searching for relevant records greatly improves the overall process. When precision is possible, such as a search within a search, the faster the FOIA process can be. Furthermore, automation comes standardization and consistency. The entire process can be controlled from intake (through forms) to data collection, through review and analysis as to how and when the information is disclosed. It is exactly because the requests are handled in a consistent manner that the process is assured to be repeatable and defensible.
Technology can pre-redact personal information- Often one of the most time-consuming parts of the records request process is the redaction of personally identifiable information (PII). PII exists in almost every document and manual redaction is a risky option. Technology such as ECM assists in locating the appropriate records and auto-redacts exempt content is quite useful to any office subject to open records compliance.
If you are interested in learning more about automating FOIA or other records requests and/or are interested in automatically redacting PII please contact us.