Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture encourages, protects, and promotes agriculture and related industries throughout the Commonwealth while providing consumer protection through inspection services that impact the health and financial security of Pennsylvania’s citizens. The Department is charged with managing the millions of dogs in Pennsylvania through the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement which is responsible for ensuring the welfare of breeding dogs and puppies in commercial breeding kennels. The Bureau also regulates activities pertaining to dogs that are classified as dangerous and oversees annual licensure and rabies vaccinations for dogs.

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has a long history of providing excellent service to Pennsylvania’s farm families and agriculture producers. In addition, the Department is also responsible for other areas of human and animal health and safety, with one of the largest being the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement. The Bureau licenses Pennsylvania’s commercial breeding kennels as a way of ensuring the welfare and safety of dogs and puppies in the kennels. In recent years, dog laws in Pennsylvania have changed, making the management and oversight of kennels more challenging.

The Challenge

The Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement requires the 5,000 kennel owners who operate in Pennsylvania to submit an annual renewal of their registration form with a fee. In the past, the renewal form was mailed to current kennel operators in October. The application had to be completed and sent with registration payment by the end of the year.

Because the Bureau operates seven regional offices throughout the Commonwealth, kennel owners would remit the proper form and fees to their regional office. Upon receipt, the regional offices opened the renewals, processed the information, and sent the checks to the Bureau’s main office in Harrisburg for deposit. After all of the forms were processed, an archival scan image was produced in Harrisburg and posted to the existing system.

The old processing system was time-consuming and costly and responses to kennel owners being slow. Because the project involved a big influx of paper-work in a short period of time (October, November, and December and sometimes into January), the additional workload was difficult for the Department of Agriculture employees to handle it along with their regular duties.

The Solution

IMR Digital introduced IMR’s Digital MailRoom to the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement in 2009. The process represented a significant departure in workflow for the agency and one that has exceeded the Bureau’s expectations in just one annual cycle. By totally flipping the process and beginning with a scan of the document instead of completing just an archival scan at the end of the process, information is more readily available and more easily organized.

Upon implementation, all applications from kennel owners are now being returned to one designated post office box in Hazleton, PA, instead of seven locations throughout the Commonwealth. Each morning, IMR Digital personnel retrieve the mail and deliver it to their nearby production facility where each piece is opened. The applications are then scanned and the appropriate index data is assigned to each digital application. The completed image files are then automatically downloaded to the Department of Agriculture’s document imaging system in Harrisburg. At that point, Bureau officials in Harrisburg and in each of the seven regional offices can access, review, approve or reject renewal applications. Regional offices only have access to their own region’s applications, but the ability to review applications digitally through a web-based program has accelerated the process and allowed for further accountability. Checks for application fees are still currently being delivered to Harrisburg for deposit upon approval.

The Benefits

Employees from the Bureau of Dog Law Enforcement have significantly reduced the time spent on processing and reviewing applications. The improved document distribution and immediate availability of records has allowed the staff to be more responsive to customer concerns and questions and more organized. The bulk of the workload has been transferred from a handful of people in Harrisburg to professionals in IMR Digital ‘s Hazleton facility and then digitally distributed throughout the seven regional offices operated by the Bureau.