Admin Set-up 2: Mapping Your Process to NextRequest

Which process category is the best fit for my organization?

If you have a single-user (free tier) portal, you can skip this guide as it only applies to portals with more than one user.

NextRequest supports a wide range of processes for responding to public records requests, from agencies that want a city clerk to manage everything, to others where departments all handle their own requests with no central coordination. Identifying where in this range your agency falls will help you set up your portal to most efficiently respond to records requests.

Most agencies using NextRequest have public records processes that fall into one of three broad categories:

  1. Fully centralized
  2. Partially centralized
  3. Fully decentralized


Read on for a guide to which category is the best fit for your organization. Don’t worry if nothing is an exact match - you can pick the one that is closest and then tweak it as you go along. In particular if most departments will follow one process but there are a couple exceptions, pick the category that fits the majority of departments. Once you know your category, keep an eye out for the configuration recommendations that are specific to that category. They are included in the relevant set-up guides as well as listed in the corresponding section below.


A) Fully Centralized

This setup will be a good fit for your agency if:

  • All requests are routed through a central coordinator (individual or department)
  • This central coordinator has primary responsibility for communicating with the requester and releasing documents
  • Other departments and staff assist with locating documents but are not permitted to release them or communicate with requesters


If your agency is fully centralized the lifecycle of a typical request will look like this:

  1. A member of the public submits a request
  2. The request is auto-assigned to central coordinator
  3. Central coordinator adds a department and/or individuals to the request as support staff
  4. Central Coordinator coordinates with requester as needed
  5. Support staff uploads responsive records
  6. Central Coordinator reviews and releases responsive records, then closes request


 

If your agency is full centralized you’ll want to do the following when configuring your portal:

Portal Configuration:

  • Under Policies > Requester Form, leave the checkbox ‘Allow requester to assign a department’ unchecked Screen Shot 2021-09-21 at 10.13.34 PM
  • Under Organization Information > Basic Information, make sure the central coordinator for requests is listed as the Point of Contact. They will need to have the ‘Admin’ user role to be listed in the drop-down


User Setup

  • All users besides the central coordinator(s) should be given the ‘Staff’ user role. 


Department Setup

  • The Point of Contact field should be left empty for all departments
  • The records coordinator for each department should be added as Department Staff, with ‘Auto-Assigned as Support’ toggled on
  • All other users for each department should be added as Department Staff. Only toggle on ‘Auto-Assigned as Support’ for each user if that user should be notified about all new requests for their department


 

 

B) Partially Centralized

This setup will be a good fit for your agency if:

  • Most requests are routed through a central coordinator (individual or department)
  • This central coordinator hands off the request to a department to fulfill
  • When a request is submitted directly to a department, that department does not hand off the request to a central coordinator
  • Departments have primary responsibility for communicating with the requester and releasing documents. The coordinator may choose to receive updates on the request but is no longer responsible for it. 



If your agency is partially centralized the lifecycle of a typical request will look like this:

  1. A member of the public submits the request
  2. The request is auto-assigned to central coordinator
  3. Central Coordinator assigns the request to a department, handing off responsibility to the Department Point of Contact
  4. Department Point of Contact coordinates with requester/department staff if needed
  5. Department staff upload responsive records
  6. Department Point of Contact reviews and releases responsive records, then closes request

    Departments may also enter and assign requests that come to them directly, bypassing the central coordinator and replacing steps 1-3.


If your agency is partially centralized you’ll want to do the following when configuring your portal:

Portal Configuration

  • Under Policies > Requester Form, leave the checkbox ‘Allow requester to assign a department’ unchecked if you want all requests to go through the central coordinator. If you want the requester to be able to select a department for a request, check the box. Departments will be able to enter and assign requests to themselves regardless of whether the box is checked.
  • Under Organization Information > Basic Information, make sure the central coordinator for requests is listed as the Point of Contact. They will need to have the ‘Admin’ user role to be listed in the drop-down
  • Under Policies > Request publishing/visibility, select the ‘Department’ option for Default Request Visibility (assumes you only want staff to see their own departments’ requests)


User Setup:

  • The records coordinator for each department should be given the ‘Publisher’ user role
  • All other users in each department can be given either the ‘Publisher’ or ‘Staff’ user role depending on their level of responsibility


Department Setup:

  • The records coordinator for each department should be set as the department’s Point of Contact
  • All other users for each department should be added as Department Staff. Only toggle on ‘Auto-Assigned as Support’ for each user if that user should be notified about all new requests for their department


 


C) Decentralized

This setup will be a good fit for your agency if:

  • You don’t have a central coordinator to route requests.
  • Requesters should submit requests directly to the department that they think is most appropriate
  • Each department fulfills their own requests and releases them
  • There may be a portal administrator who monitors and assists with requests but only as needed


If your agency is decentralized the lifecycle of a typical request will look like this:

  1. A member of the public submits a request directly to a department
  2. The request is automatically assigned to the Point of Contact for that department
  3. Department Point of Contact coordinates with requester/department staff if needed
  4. Department staff upload responsive records
  5. Department Point of Contact reviews and releases responsive records, then closes request


If your agency is decentralized you’ll want to do the following when configuring your portal:

Portal Configuration

  • Under Policies > Requester Form, check the box ‘Allow requester to assign a department’, then check the box ‘Require requester to assign a department’  Screen Shot 2021-09-21 at 10.15.52 PM
  • Under Policies > Request publishing/visibility, select the ‘Department’ option for Default Request Visibility (assumes you only want staff to see their own departments’ requests)


User Setup

  • The records coordinator for each department should be given the ‘Publisher’ user role
  • All other users in each department can be given either the ‘Publisher’ or ‘Staff’ user role depending on their level of responsibility


Department Setup

  • The records coordinator for each department should be set as the department’s Point of Contact
  • All other users for each department should be added as Department Staff. Only toggle on ‘Auto-Assigned as Support’ for each user if that user should be notified about all new requests for their department