Ocala, Florida by the Numbers
The words “any and all” can feel like a punch in the stomach.
Records Manager Gary Blasczienski bore the primary responsibility for fulfilling public records requests for the City of Ocala, a community of 60,000 residents in north-central Florida.
“The process to complete an any-and-all email request was ridiculous,” he said.
For example, suppose the City received a request for all emails to and from the City Manager’s office for September through December. The Records Manager would have to:
- Send a request to IT to pull the emails—potentially numbering several thousand.
- Import each email into Outlook.
- Open each individual email to determine if it needed to be part of the response (newsletter, magazine, and similar subscriptions are not considered public records).
- Convert the PST (Outlook) files into a massive Adobe PDF, which could take several hours.
- Redact sensitive information from all responsive emails.
And this process didn’t show signs of getting any easier—quite the reverse.
In July 2015, the City received about 550,000 emails totaling about 45 gigabytes of data. In July 2021, they received about 950,000 emails totaling about 398 gigabytes of data. That’s almost double the number of emails, but 9 times as much data!
Email records and requests for these records continued to increase.
The Solution to Any and All Email Requests
The staff at the City decided that their current records request software wasn’t meeting their needs for managing “any and all” email requests.
They evaluated their options and decided that JustFOIA fit the bill. They signed on just in time to be part of the beta tester group for JustFOIA’s “any and all” email requests and document management tool.
The real time-saver is the ability to extract the PST into individual emails in JustFOIA, then click to remove which emails are non-responsive.
This feature has reduced the City of Ocala’s time to process any and all email requests by an average of 60%.
More Benefits from JustFOIA
But any and all document management wasn’t the only benefit that the City of Ocala found from JustFOIA. What else did they gain?
Fewer Repetitive Requests
The public portal provides a self-service option for high-interest records so that the City doesn’t have to fill each one individually. For example, the City recently approved a medical marijuana use ordinance. They received upwards of 40 almost identical requests for these records. So they configured the request form to re-direct requesters to the public portal, where the records were already published. Not only did this save the City staff hours of their time, but it also saved the requester from having to wait to get the information they needed.
One reason that the City of Ocala chose JustFOIA was the good things they’d heard about our client service. “If I have a question, it is usually answered within an hour or two,” Gary said.
Unlike with their previous software, the City found that their IT department can make changes on their own as their processes evolve—even create their own forms. “The fact that I can make these changes myself is a game-changer. I do not have to submit a change to the software developers and wait for approval – it saves so much time,” Gary said.
The City of Ocala’s experience isn’t unique. Our clients experienced a 34% increase in requests referencing “any and all” for email communication in the past year, highlighting the importance of using a system that can handle these emails efficiently.