One of the most important things which local governments deal with is Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA) requests. Governments often want to respond to these quickly in order to be compliant. But to be compliant there are also other parts of the legislation that have to be followed such as how to collect, use, disclose, protect and correct personal information.
FIPPA requests can come for various reasons such as:
- People wanting to know who complained about them. This can be people who had a party shut down, those whose car was parked on the grass illegally, etc.
- Lawyers asking for information and details about motor vehicle accidents. This is one of the most common reasons for requests as they need this information to verify details and create or respond to lawsuits.
- Insurance companies wanting details about housing fires. Companies often pay out large amounts for such events and want to ensure that they are legally required to do so.
- Citizens/businesses who want more information about city projects. This may be a park that is being built near their house or a new skyscraper they are interested in.
When a request is made, a public body must make every effort to help the applicant and to respond quickly and accurately. If a part of a request is refused the applicant must be told why. However, not all information can be released to the public; there are certain exceptions, the exact nature of which varies by location, which may include information:
- Which could be harmful to personal privacy and public safety.
- About Medical or Psychiatric history.
- Which can be harmful to a third party business.
We have worked with over a hundred local governments across Canada and understand the peculiarities of these laws in each region. If these laws are violated there will be further consequences for the municipality at hand. With Ricoh’s easy to use tools, redacting information and correctly complying with FIPPA requests is a breeze. Using these tools a local government can:
- Scan its paper files to create easily maintainable digital copies. This will free up storage space and allow it to store information in an intuitive file structure. This results in records which can be easily searched for and retrieved.
- Track FIPPA requests through a comprehensive document management system. Requests can be tracked at different steps of the process and this status information can be relayed to constituents.
- Generate reports on how FIPPA requests are being handled. This metadata can be used to further optimize processes.
- Mark information such that it remains visible to internal employees but is securely blacked out and redacted when the file is distributed.
- Create custom stamps through which employees can communicate under which provision information was redacted.
Various local governments, such as the City of Maple Ridge, have seen success with the utilization of this tool. Maple Ridge had already implemented Ricoh’s comprehensive solutions for document and records management and was happy with the results. The Records Management/FOI coordinator realized that there was a need for software for redacting information for FIPPA requests. They searched for tools on the web, but they were expensive. They quickly realized that Ricoh could help with redaction as well and started implementing our software for this purpose. The city has been using our tools for a number of months now and is very happy with the results and has even shared their experiences at a user group.
Dealing with FIPPA requests is hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Learn more about Ricoh’s solutions for municipalities.