A Process-Innovation Approach to Public Records
By ImageSource Team on January 21, 2023
The demand for public records information has risen sharply over the past few years. As emergency spending and political polarization increase scrutiny on public institutions, journalists, watchdog organizations, and constituents expect increased visibility into government operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation initiatives across the board. Government agencies began introducing online tools for requesting records, which relieved some of the pressure related to manually intaking and processing requests.
At the same time, the overall shift towards remote business processes increased the number of digital records produced across a growing range of file types – including documents, emails, social media, and video and audio recordings. As the volume and complexity of records increased, so did the difficulty of managing and responding to records requests.
Bound by federal FOIA and state public records regulations, government agencies must respond to requests within mandated timelines, or run the risk of litigation and/or fines. Yet the need to respond quickly must be balanced with other requirements – like safeguarding personally identifiable information (PII) and other protected content.
Don’t leave your agency open to risk
There is danger in responding too late, and a completely different risk in responding hastily with poorly secured records.
While federal and state laws determine the requirements for responding to public records requests, they don’t offer practical guidelines for meeting the demand. Every agency is on its own when it comes to designing and implementing a public records process. The job is overwhelming even for organizations that have dedicated public records professionals on staff – and not every organization does.
Process innovation makes it possible for agencies to reliably intake and respond to requests with punctual, thorough, and secure public records. A targeted solution such as ILINX Records Director facilitates pain-free records request management with four key features:
- An accessible and transparent online records one-stop to empower constituents – The days of submitting an in-person request during office hours are long gone. Today’s users expect online, 24/7 access across the board – to every type of service. Put the power in their hands with an online portal for initiating requests. A solution like ILINX Records Director not only enables request-creation, but it also facilitates ongoing communication and follow up. Requestors always have insight into the process with automated email updates and a tracking number that lets them check the status of their request. Proactive, automated access to information frees staff to spend more time locating records instead of fielding follow-up questions.
- Standardized record-gathering and facilitate collaboration – An automated public records process solution saves time and effort with an electronic form and required fields to guide users towards focused, specific information requests. Clicking “submit” triggers a workflow that searches for relevant records within databases and across formats.
On the organization side, outreach tools support collaboration with internal information-keepers. ILINX Records Director creates a one-stop experience for each request, which includes a Solicitation Request for additional content. This creates a consistent process for requesting and collecting records throughout the organization. Every solicitation email and resulting record is tracked with the request. Visualization options show the progress of incoming feedback while calendars and notifications keep contributors on deadline.
- Automated redaction processes to ensure information security – A fully automated public records solution saves hours of manual redaction efforts while eliminating the risks of litigation related to unsecured sensitive information. ILINX Records Director uses pattern seeking innovation to find every instance of a specific term (such as a name) or category (such as social security or case numbers). Each instance is flagged for human review before redaction. Once approved, the solution applies an exemption code to justify the redaction, and the withheld information is irrevocably blocked from the final packet of records delivered.
- Real-time activity tracking and seamless audit reporting – Once a request is generated, the records-gathering process comes under scrutiny. Organizations must be able to show that they’ve made every good faith effort to locate and deliver all the records they are obligated to. ILINX Records Director automatically tracks every activity, message, and file gathered in response to a records request. It seamlessly generates complete audit reports in real time – eliminating the administrative workload of manually documenting the organization’s response efforts.
Organizations of every type can leverage process automation to reduce countless hours of labor and escape the risk of litigation. An intelligently targeted records-specific solution like ILINX Records Director scales for any agency, of any size, working with any number and variety of records.
With the power of process innovation, it is possible to meet the rising volume of public records requests within mandated timeframes – with thorough, accurate, and secure information. ILINX Records Director makes it easy.