Broward Sheriff’s Office
Finding the right employees is important in any operation, but for public safety organizations like the Broward Sheriff’s Office (BSO) the weight of that responsibility is especially heavy. One of the largest public service agencies in the United States, BSO has about 6,300 employees, including certified deputies, firefighter, paramedics and civilians, who serve residents of Broward County, Florida. Responsible for all of Broward’s unincorporated areas, BSO also provides contracted services to 14 municipalities, the Ft. Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport, Port Everglades and Broward County Mass Transit. About one-third of the nearly 2 million residents of Broward County, which encompasses the Ft. Lauderdale metro area, receive the services of BSO.
BSO receives 15,000 applications annually, each with at least seven pages. In addition, BSO operates one of the nation’s largest local jail systems, which detains approximately 5,000 inmates every day, as well as handles county probation, drug court, pre-trial services, in-custody treatment programs, Child Protective Investigative Services and Broward County’s Fire Rescue Department. All of these important services generate countless pages of records with strict retention and security requirements.
“We began to look at document imaging because we were running out of space,” comments Donna Fleming, BSO’s Records Supervisor. “In addition, we realized that imaging could save us a lot of time by making records faster to locate and preventing mis-filings.” After spending a year and a half evaluating vendors, BSO chose OnBase, an integrated suite of enterprise content management software solutions from Hyland Software, Inc. that includes core capabilities in document imaging and workflow, COLD/ERM and records management.
“The OnBase solution proposed by Information Access Systems [an authorized OnBase solution provider] was the one we kept comparing everyone else to,” comments Ms. Fleming. “No one else had all the pieces we wanted together in one package.”
BSO was even more certain of their decision after records manager Pam LeSieur attended that year’s OnBase Training and Technology Conference, an annual educational event attended by OnBase users and partners. “I was amazed at what OnBase had to offer,” comments Ms. LeSieur. “I go to a lot of conferences, and this was the first time I was at one where I couldn’t wait for the sessions to start. I really learned a lot.”
“OnBase also has the security features we need,” adds Brad Bohnet, HR analyst at BSO. “For instance, the redaction feature is easy to use and allows us to save both the redacted and un-redacted images and limit access to them. In addition, we needed a solution that would allow us to maintain an audit trail of the document history.”
Secure Document Repository Protects Records, Serves Customers Better
Human Resources documents, vendor contracts, booking information, jail records, probable cause documents, accident reports and more are converted to electronic images using scanners from Fujitsu Computer Products of America. BSO has also begun offering scanning services for some of the cities with which it contracts for services. VRS (Virtual ReScan®) from Kofax Image Products, Inc. is used to ensure image quality and reduce the number of images requiring rescanning.
BSO also uses bar code recognition technology from Kofax to identify document types and other information. In addition to generating face sheets with bar codes, BSO also re-designed some of its forms, such as psychological and polygraph reports, to include pre-printed bar codes. The unique identifier encoded in the bar code makes it possible to automatically populate other indexing values. For example, when a new employee is hired, the face sheet includes bar codes indicating the Social Security Number and recruitment number. OnBase matches this data to a text file exported from a transactional application from Sigma Data Systems, Inc. and uses that file to autofill the necessary keywords.
Maintaining the records in a centralized electronic repository significantly improves customer service while reducing labor. Prior to using OnBase, the Records Department would receive requests at the counter or by phone and have to locate and pull a file. That file would have to be photocopied or faxed. The entire process resulted in longer waits and more demand on human and physical resources. With OnBase, clerks can enter a keyword value such as a case number and print, e-mail or fax a record directly from OnBase. “When you’re responsible for managing records for the public, how do you put a dollar value on the ability to provide someone with a copy of an accident report or other important document in seconds?” asks Ms. Fleming.
Combined with its security features, OnBase’s ability to provide access to multiple simultaneous users make it a good solution for self-service, further reducing labor. For instance, BSO can provide access to departments and users that require records, while setting user privileges that prevent unauthorized access to documents. An electronic repository is not only easier to secure than paper records, it can also be backed up as part of a disaster recovery plan. To complement network redundancies, BSO uses OnBase to create DVD backup copies.
In Human Resources, OnBase also helps to support accountability and compliance requirements as many of the files associated with employees must include certifications and other critical documents that are regularly audited by the state in addition to routine audits required of most employers. “The FDLE [Florida Department of Law Enforcement] recently completed an audit of employee files and afterwards e-mailed us that ‘This system is great. I wish everyone could do it.’” says Bohnet. “Not only did OnBase save time for FDLE, but our employees didn’t have to spend time locating, pulling and re-filing the files they requested.” Sworn new hire files are checked before their starting date, and again quarterly, to make sure all required forms are completed, signed and notarized, and all sworn files are checked bi-annually. OnBase also ensures that critical documents, such as emergency contact forms, are readily available when needed – but only to authorized users.
However, even declined applications must be preserved and available, adding approximately a quarter of a million pages annually to BSO’s files. The ability to retain and manage the enormous volume of declined applications will also save a significant amount of time for BSO’s HR Department. “There may have been information on the application that would have disqualified a candidate in the past, but all we would have is a code in the computer,” comments Bohnet. “That applicant might reapply and be declined based on a standard that has changed, and something that disqualified a candidate in the past may no longer be an issue. We also support a mutual applicant verification process with other agencies. An applicant may submit an application to another agency after being declined by our agency. When a request comes in asking why an applicant was declined, we can look up that file and answer the question immediately. OnBase has saved us many hours just for those requests.”
Ease of Use Frees Users and Administrators from Complex Processes
“It’s one thing to tell people about how OnBase will work for them; it’s another thing to show them,” comments Ms. LeSieur. “Some people don’t like change, but once they found out how much easier OnBase made their jobs, they loved it.” She estimates that less than half an hour of training was necessary to get scanner operators and records personnel using the system.
OnBase is also very easy to use from an administrative standpoint and can be incrementally enhanced as needs, preferences, users or budgets dictate. “As we use it, more things come up that we would like to do, and we often find that we can come up with a way to do them by changing something in the configuration or that OnBase is already set up to do them,” says Bohnet. “It’s so easy to set up that often when we have an idea to add something, we can do it ourselves without having to call IAS every time.”
With more than 60 fully integrated modules, OnBase can also provide BSO with additional functionality in the future, such as Digital Signatures, Workflow and Application Enabler™, which image-enables transactional applications. “From a technology standpoint, this project is still a baby,” comments Bohnet. “We’re looking forward to doing even more with OnBase in the future and rolling it out to more users.”
At a Glance
A cost-effective document management solution that can be incrementally enhanced has helped Broward Sheriff’s Office manage more than 10,000 applicant files and countless other records generated in operating one of the largest local jail systems and serving residents of Fort Lauderdale metro area.
- Improved customer service by making records immediately available upon request
- Easily configured security features limit access to sensitive documents
- Modular design supports incremental
- Reduces time and labor associated with routine file audits
- Enhances the ability to share information during the hiring process
- Supports disaster recovery initiatives
- Human Resources
- Production Document Imaging
- DVD Authoring
- Kofax Image Products, Inc. Virtual ReScan® image quality software and Adrenaline™ scanner controllers
- Fujitsu Computer Products of America document scanners
enhancements for ongoing process improvements that meet budgetary challenges