January 26, 2024

New County of Maui UIPA portal launches successfully

To address the unprecedented volume of public records requests following the August 2023 Maui wildfires, the County of Maui successfully launched a new online records management portal on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024.

Powered by GovQA, the portal – found at https://mauicountyhi.govqa.us/WEBAPP/_rs/ -- is a centralized, secure platform that allows the County to enhance transparency and improve customer service for media and citizen public records requests made pursuant to the Uniform Information Practice Act (UIPA).

Individuals can track their UIPA requests online, and self-serve tools and auto-follow functions make it easy to proactively share information. An online intake form refines requests, reducing the need for clarification and delivering improved accuracy. The system also cuts paperwork and frees staff time.

After the launch Wednesday, the State of Hawai’i Office of Information Practices (OIP) congratulated the County of Maui for leading the way in simplifying and enhancing the UIPA record request process.

“OIP applauds Maui County’s trailblazing foresight in utilizing new technology to respond to UIPA record requests, which may be a model for other State and county agencies in Hawai’i to consider implementing as well,” OIP said in a news release.

While the County continues to struggle with limited staffing and resources, it is hopeful that the launch of the portal will streamline and improve its UIPA process.

“The UIPA Records Management Portal will allow County departments to leverage technology to simplify and enhance the UIPA process, and marks a significant milestone in our ongoing commitment to transparency and citizen engagement,” said Mimi Desjardins, County of Maui First Deputy Corporation Counsel.

Initially, the new portal is available for departments most impacted by wildfire-related UIPA requests, including Department of Fire and Public Safety, Maui Police Department, Maui Emergency Management Agency, Office of the Mayor, Department of Management, Department of Planning, Department of Public Works, Department of the Corporation Counsel and Department of Water Supply. The County plans to expand the portal to all departments in the future.

GovQA LLC’s Public Records Request Management software handles more Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests for state and local governments than any other software provider, according to the company.