With the growing demand for data transparency and data security, agencies with ATIP departments are struggling with an ever-increasing workload. No matter how big or small an agency, ATIP request processing is a daunting task that needs a scalable solution. These agencies regularly face a simple question that does not have a simple answer: How to speed up ATIP request processing when a thorough response means gathering and processing thousands of pages of documents to respond to a single request?
Can high-volume solutions work for low-volume ATIP agencies?
Dozens of ATIP departments, managers and software companies usually focus on solving problems for high-volume agencies. Then, the expectation is that smaller ATIP departments can learn and re-use solutions from these larger agencies. However, things are not that simple, and these smaller ATIP departments are facing different challenges.
Larger agencies that process ATIP requests usually think of resources in terms of workforce. When workload grows, the simple solution is to hire more staff. This logic is based on manufacturing lines. When you need greater output, you add more people using the same equipment and at the end of the day, you get increased output.
However, when it comes to smaller agencies, like local schools, universities, hospitals, etc., there’s a restraint that prevents workforce increase. Budgets are set tight, and agencies are required to do more work with the same workforce. Furthermore, if agencies can find a way to get more done with less resources, even better.
This then leaves ATIP request processing teams to look at technology as a possible solution. Thankfully, software companies have been working on building case management software solutions specifically for the ATIP use case.
These software solutions focus on automation workflows that enable agencies to process thousands of ATIP requests per year that result in dozens of pages as a response. But very little attention is focused on helping agencies process thousands of pages of documents to respond to several dozen requests per year.
Smaller agencies that get fewer ATIP requests are left to find their own way in gathering thousands of pages of documents, deduplication, redacting and responding.
Software providers go after high-volume low-workload use cases, leaving the low-volume high-workload use cases on the fringes of the bell-curve. However, plenty of organizations, like hospitals, schools, universities etc., can find themselves in this low-volume ATIP requests without a real tool to help them process these handful of requests and gather thousands of pages of documents to respond.
All-in-one ATIP software solutions leveraging eDiscovery and automated PII masking
The key in processing high volumes of data is a software that handles the entire life cycle of a ATIP request:
- It would have a public-facing form for submitting a ATIP request.
- It would have a smart system to recognize which department should handle each request.
- The right people in the agency would need to be notified via email for a new ATIP request.
- The software system would pre-process the request and offer suggested related documents and cases.
- The pre-selected documents would be pre-processed for personally identifiable information (PII) with masking pre-applied but not burned into the document.
- ATIP staff would have an easy way to review attached documents and apply the PII and other needed masking as needed.
- Every progress on the ATIP request would be marked in an Activity Log for later revision.
- Stakeholders would be automatically notified of progress.
- The software would learn from previous ATIP requests and trains itself in doing a better job at the preparatory data gathering, deduplication and data-masking stages, thus effectively reducing the workload for ATIP staff.
Smaller agencies that receive ATIP requests have different challenges than large government agencies. Imagine receiving ATIP requests that regularly end up with 5000+ pages of redacted documents. We recently had this very case. An agency was getting a modest 20-25 ATIP requests per year. However, the average response meant compiling about 5000 pages of documents like emails, transcripts, PDFs and even CCTV footage transcripts.
Our approach was to use ArkCase as the base ATIP processing software because it’s open source and uses proven technologies for data management and business process management. On top of that, we used the ATIP solution that is built specifically to automate the entire process from a public access link for submitting the ATIP request, to pre-searching and ranking of records pertaining the request, to deduplication and pre-suggested redaction of any personally identifiable information and other sensitive data.
Since the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requires that agencies like hospitals, universities, municipal and local government bodies use automation and tracking of requests, ArkCase ATIP comes equipped with these deliverables out-of-the-box.
As an end-to-end solution, ArkCase ATIP covers all the stages with the needed auditability at every stage from submitting a ATIP request to data pre-compilation, PII masking, responses and any correspondence pertaining to each request.
Tipping the scales in your favor
With a software that is capable of processing large quantities of data, hospitals, schools, universities and smaller municipal government agencies finally have a solution to their low-volume, high-workload situation.
Remember the agency I mentioned earlier that has ATIP requests that regularly produce responses with thousands of pages of documents? With ArkCase ATIP, they finally have a way to gather all relevant documents and process them with relative ease. Don’t get me wrong here, these ATIP requests will probably never become a point-and-click type of work. Agencies will still need skilled staff who understand the intricacy of responding to an ATIP request.
However, these skilled workers can do a lot more in a lot less time thanks to ArkCase ATIP. The heavy lifting of elastic search through unstructured data sources like emails, video footages and memos is a lot easier when the machine does the grunt work. Precompiled sets of documents are then deduplicated before ArkCase processes them for PII masking. Employees still have to review the work, but the time savings are enormous, and saving time means saving money.
If you’re interested in finding out how ArkCase ATIP can help your agency, reach out to us through our Contact Us form. We’d love to hear your ATIP processing use case and find a way to help you achieve more results with less work.