Washington State agency’s public records officer securely streamlines records requests to better serve the public
Agency: Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals
Public Records Officer: Jasmine McLaughlin
Average Volume of Requests: 225-250 per year
About the Agency
The Washington State Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals (BIIA) is an independent quasi-judicial state agency that hears appeals from decisions made by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) in several areas. The three principal types of appeals are: Industrial Insurance (worker's compensation), Safety Citations under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA), and Employer Premium (tax assessments and classifications). The mission of BIIA is to serve the public by resolving appeals in a consistent, impartial, timely, and efficient manner. The agency has only two full time employees tasked with processing all public records requests agency wide, which average between 225-250 requests annually.
Jasmine McLaughlin, BIIA’s Public Records Officer, loves her work and loves serving the public. She shares her agency’s dedication to public service but felt overwhelmed at times by the ever-increasing volume of requests, documentation requirements, and manual documentation/records management tasks. The heavy flow of in-bound records requests come in many different forms including, for example, fax, email, phone, and mail. All documentation associated with each request was stored in different locations and different formats, making them incredibly time-consuming and inefficient to process. Jasmine knew there had to be a better, more productive way to efficiently do her work and serve her community.
A Better Way
In 2019, Jasmine began organically researching software programs that would help save her time so she could process requests more efficiently for the requesters. She also knew it would need to be a solution that didn’t drain the agency’s limited IT resources or budget. In addition, her wish list of must-haves for the ideal solution also included:
- Secure, reliable, user-friendly and accessible (both internally and externally)
- No requirement for the requester to create an account
- Compliant with existing state/federal laws (swift updates w/changes in the laws)
- JLARC integration
- Built-in reports/statistics/request log
- Impeccable customer service
- Open to feedback
For Jasmine, it was also critical that the cloud software partner not only had a deep understanding of public records and records management but was also willing to listen to feedback and evolve to meet the ever-changing needs of state and local government entities. She searched online and made calls to fellow public records officers around the state. Then she learned about cloudPWR–it checked all the boxes, and then some, for Jasmine, the BIIA, and their constituents. She. Was. Ecstatic!
The Road to Victory
Jasmine had many discussions with cloudPWR which resulted in easily compiling a pros and cons list to start the conversation with the BIIA IT Department, Fiscal, and Management; "it was easy – there were no cons... for any of us." After careful discussion and consideration, Jasmine worked with cloudPWR to get a demo day on the books, and "the rest was history," Jasmine said.
Unparalleled Efficiency, Happy PRO
Today, Jasmine is able to log-in to one single secure platform to manage all aspects of each request the BIIA receives, which drastically cut down the amount of time she was spending to process and document each request. From sending an official response to the requester, search/retrieval and redaction, to electronic delivery with an automated exemption key, the entire process is electronically documented in compliance with the law.
From beginning to end, overnight cloudPWR became the one-stop-shop the BIIA and its constituents needed.
One of Jasmine's favorite aspects of cloudPWR’s Airlift platform is its evolution. The platform has added a public-facing portal now too, so requesters can easily submit and check the status of their requests. Now Jasmine has the tools and time to provide the type of customer care she prides herself on, because, as she puts it, “If I was in their shoes, I would want to be taken care of how I take care of them. And I'm determined to always do that.”