Ontario Ministry hot for automating processes

The Ontario Ministry of Environment (OME) hopes to alleviate the high demand of Freedom of Information (FOI) requests with the implementation of tracking and case management applications.

The OEM announced Wednesday it had chosen Ottawa-based Privasoft in an effort to improve response rates with citizens.

Privasoft is set to assist Ontario in managing infrastructures as well as Access to Information (ATIP) requests more efficiently by automating processes and standard tasks with their web-based solutions.

“Privasoft’s tracking and case management application provides strategic insight that allows us to streamline our FOI processes and continuously improve our performance, resulting in a higher FOI response rate,” said Cynthia Harris, FOI Project Manager of Information Management and Access Branch at OEM.

Documents can now be stored electronically in a clean and streamlined process through imaging and redaction, eliminating the need to go through boxes of files manually, she said.

“It will also increase efficiency and will speed up the request process as documents are all available in electronic form,” said Privasoft spokesperson, Nicole Gibson. “And it also ensures that legislation is applied consistently as no sensitive information is released to requestors and different requestors receive the same kind of information.”

More than 25 fed departments and agencies from Health Canada, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Public Works and Government Services Canada to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) use Privasoft’s applications.

Provincially, B.C., and Ontario are clients, and municipally, the City of Ottawa.

The Government of Ontario is a great showcase example of how technology can really improve processes, according to Gibson.

“Further to delivering greater effective and efficient government service, transparency is also at the forefront of agendas at all levels of government,” Gibson said. “If the government has confidence they are applying legislation accurately by not releasing confidential information they shouldn’t be.”

The OEM can turn around requests for information quickly and have the confidence they need to be able to service the public in a responsible way, she said.

Privasoft has existing relationships with other Government of Ontario Ministries but this partnership with OME is unique because they currently receive the highest volume of FOI requests in the province of Ontario – approx. 7,000 a year on such topics as the Walkerton Inquiry.