Operations become 'greener' for Ministry of Environment

The Ontario Ministry of the Environment (MoE) receives more FOI requests than any public organization in the province: 5,200 alone in 2008. A few years ago, the Ministry realized its rudimentary case management system designed to handle a few hundred requests a year was no match for the thousands of requests pouring in.

Operations become 'greener' for Ministry of Environment

For every request received, the Ministry must consult with the relevant regional and district offices. In its traditional paper-based system, this consultation demanded huge amounts of photocopy­ing and communication by mail. This, coupled with a labour-intensive process of manually redacting sensitive content from documents, made it difficult for the Ministry to meet its 30-day turnaround target. In 2001, the MoE received 3,800 FOI requests and had a compliance rate of only 13 percent.

The Ministry of the Environment is a 2,000-employee organization dedicated to protecting the environment.

The Information Access and Management Branch within the Ministry has about 10 staff dedicated to processing FOI requests. Clients largely lawyers and environmental consultants request information from the MoE as part of property-related transactions. Given that these FOI requests feed into a business process, they carry a sense of urgency.

CSDC has helped Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment develop the most sophisticated auto­mated FOI processing system in the world, implementing case management in 2005 and online redaction a year later.

Full automation was achieved in 2009 with the addition of AccessPro Workgroup.

Today the Ministry can log, route, manage, and report on all FOI requests. Original record holders can scan documents at the source. And caseworkers need to interact with only one interface, generating all responses securely and within the legislated 30-day time frame.

The collaborative, streamlined approach to document and request handling enabled by CSDC also allows the Ministry to pursue and fulfill its commitment to continuous improvement by creating ongoing opportunities to introduce efficiencies, reduce resource consumption, and optimize performance. The Ministry has been able to reduce the number of pages it prints or photocopies by 90 percent from nearly one million, to less than 100,000 annually.

Process automation has drastically reduced the amount of time required for the Ministry of the Environment to respond to information requests. Its compliance rate skyrocketed from 13 percent in 2001 to 87 percent in 2008. Today, the Information Access and Management Branch also enjoys a more effective allocation of resources. By adopting the CSDC solution, administration can document reviews, further boosting productivity between the central office and record holders. This reduces the potential for error, and the MoE receives fewer appeals, allocating more resources to processing requests.

AccessPro Case Management: This automated case management solution provides a flexible and easy to use the system for managing information requests while demonstrating accountability and maintaining employee productivity.

AccessPro Redaction: Designed specifically for information disclosure, CSDC’s document imaging software provides content-severing tools and the regulatory context to build consistency and confidence in the electronic redaction process.

AccessPro Workgroup: A complete collaboration environment that improves communication increases process efficiency and streamlines case resolution.

Quick Stats

Population

2,000-employee organization receiving more than 5,200 FOI requests every year.

Challenge

Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment receives more freedom of information (FOI) requests than any other public body in the province due to which the traditional paper-based methods of working were becoming unsustainable.

Solution

AccessPro suite

Conclusion

By implementing AccessPro suite of case management and related document handling technologies, the Ministry has been able to automate almost every aspect of the request handling process. The results have been a huge increase in the rate of compliance, greater capacity, increased transparency and the ‘greening’ of its operations.

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