Cost Savings Records Requests

The State of Alaska or any government is really inefficient at saving money. At the start of my state service one of the first things I had to do was a Records Request for the Department of Law. This included gathering a decade of hard copy file folders and manually copying every page in each folder.

While busily monitoring the copier since it broke frequently and ensuring that nothing was double sided and thus would have to be copied and inserted separately, I started thinking about how much paper and toner along with the wear on the machine this was having and how much it had to cost just for this portion of the request. My figures were staggering just to me as it was a case of paper ($40-60) at the end and many man hours ($14/hrX15+hrs) to prep it all plus the cost of toner (each cartridge for the copier comes in at about $700 each color) and even electricity (probably the least of the costs) to do everything.

Then came the shock of how much it would cost to get it to Fairbanks overnight. More than $200 just in shipping. I knew there had to be a better way.

When the next request came in a few weeks later, I approached my supervisor and asked about simply scanning and burning the results to CD ($20 for a large stack) and mailing that to Fairbanks ($10). I pointed out it was far less expensive to mail and the lawyers could print the relevant portions of the file for the case easily.

She agreed to talk to our Attorney General and ask. The answer came back, “lets try it”. For a couple years we were able to do the CD thing and saved a lot of wear and paper not to mention shipping costs. Then there was a HIPAA breach, no not anything I did but a co-worker had a problem with a laptop and all CD burning was turned off.

Back to trying to figure out how to get files to our AG. We were using a plugin called You-Send-It for secure email. Perfect! Scan, zip and send. EEK! The files were too big. So IT procured a copy of AdobePro for me so that I can split files. YAY! Small file size, doesn’t overtax the servers. Then we stopped using You-Send-It and went to Direct Secure Mail (DSM).

With DSM we recently learned that it fills up fast with attachments so it has been OKed by the AG that normal email for the files We’re sending is perfectly fine.

Over 6 years, I’ve lost count of the number of requests I’ve fulfilled, at least 6-10 per year all in the 200+ page count category. One thing I do know is that I HAVE saved the State of Alaska a lot of money by developing the procedure of scanning and emailing records requests for non-client based files.

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