Contributor: Becky Aldridge, Records Management Coordinator, City of Bryan, Texas
Known as the “heart and soul” of the area, the City of Bryan, Texas, has a rich past, culture, and proud heritage. As a city neighboring College Station and Texas A&M University, the city serves 85,645 residents and is consistently growing.
Becky Aldridge, records management coordinator for the City of Bryan, digitizes records beyond the frontlines, ensuring they are on the latest and greatest technology for the entire records process.
Watch as Becky shares their records request pain points, why they decided to improve the process, and what it looks like now.
“I never expected JustFOIA would save me this much time.”
Are you experiencing an uptick in records requests?
We have not seen the city public information requests on my side, but the police department has a significant uptick for police records.
What common types of requests do you receive?
- Purchasing Record Requests
- Building Permit Records
- Environmental Requests
- Third-Party Emergency Medical Requests
- Municipal Courts (such as defensive driving course)
- Body Camera Video Requests
Why did the City of Bryan decide to invest in a records requests solution?
The city knew something had to change. Transformation during COVID was a must. I used Laserfiche Forms to collect the records request. Still, the process was utterly manual – with Word documents and Excel spreadsheets to track the requests and multiple email templates for ad-hoc standardization of information. I spent two to three hours a day working on open records requests. It was a mess!
The city is also responsible for the police, fire, and EMS, but each department handles its requests. The manual process blocked any transparency between the departments.
How did you decide JustFOIA was the best fit for the city?
As a longstanding MCCi client (JustFOIA’s sister company) we loved the customer service and onboarding experience. We are a vast Laserfiche user in the city. So, the Laserfiche integration was a huge selling point for us. It has made things much quicker and simpler. After evaluating several platforms, in the end, JustFOIA was the perfect solution for us.
We are delighted with our decision and recommend it to everyone!
What are some of the features that you love the most?
The forward-facing web portal saves everyone a trip to the government office. Now, they submit the request online and track the status anytime. I am not scanning or sending emails. With a few clicks, the request is distributed to the departments. We were concerned about uploading body camera footage and file sizes, but with a quick upload, JustFOIA provides easy access for the requester to download.
JustFOIA is so easy-to-use, and the staff loves it!
It is effortless to invoice requesters for the time and materials that we spend making open records requests once they meet the thresholds of the Texas Public Information Act.
The other great thing we like is the history or audit trail. I can look at the history and tell you who did what at any given time with this request. For example, last week, I had a situation where one department employee added a document, and another accidentally deleted it. We’re like, “Wait; there was this document there.” So, I looked back at the history and saw where it inadvertently got deleted. So, we reloaded the document quickly, and everything was great again.
What do you want to tell someone considering JustFOIA for their agency?
Everyone I have worked with at JustFOIA has been fantastic. Their dedicated customer success specialist quickly responds to my emails or escalates to technical support if needed. The staff is very responsive. I have had a few places where I had done something wrong and needed some guidance, and they were speedy and supportive.
The development team and leadership love customer feedback – small or large. For example, I had a field on a screen that required lots of scrolling because the message was too long for the small area. We gave feedback that it was a little annoying, so the development team fixed it. Every feature and interface enhancement is based on customer feedback.