If you deal with public records in Washington State, the acronym “JLARC” might make you want to hide under your desk.
Since 2017, public agencies in Washington that spend more than $100,000 annually fulfilling public records requests must submit reports to the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee (JLARC). And as records requests have been on the rise for the last several years, more and more agencies are finding that they are over that $100K threshold for the first time.
Tracking JLARC Data Manually
JLARC’s 15 complex metrics can take months to compile, causing endless frustrations and taking you away from your regular job duties. That’s because most of the Washington clerks we speak to are tracking JLARC data manually in cumbersome spreadsheets (even if they have a records request solution).
Tammy Mueller, Public Records Analyst for the City of Issaquah, says that the key to JLARC reporting is to proactively think through the data that you’ll need, metric by metric.
“Then make sure that everyone understands exactly how to enter the data correctly,” she advises. “This includes formatting. For instance, if you use decimals to track minutes and hours, create a cheat sheet so everyone can reference that 15 minutes is 0.25, 5 minutes is 0.083, and so on. If possible, restrict this to a number field so you can easily add the column of numbers later and not have to convert text like ‘1 hr, 15 min’ to 1.25.”
Using this method, your ability to get accurate results depends on everyone involved tracking data thoroughly and consistently throughout the year. If they don’t—you have a big problem on your hands come reporting time.
JustFOIA Can Help
But that’s why we designed JustFOIA to be the most powerful, configurable records request software on the market: So you can meet the demands of requirements like JLARC.
As part of your personalized training and initial system setup, we configure your custom fields and reports to capture key data you need for most of the 15 metrics. You don’t have to pay extra for a “JLARC Module” because the settings already exist within your system!
Let’s look at how JustFOIA reduces both reporting time and the risk of human error on some of the trickier metrics.
JLARC provides a worksheet for determining whether you have to report. It requires you to manually input data about each staff member whose job involves processing public records and non-litigation legal costs to estimate your total expenses.
JustFOIA’s Time and Materials features can track how much time your staff spends on records requests and what materials are used—making your total costs easier to calculate.