State Upgrades Filing System for BusinessesAmy Kuhlers
Fast Track Filings, a new, fully digital filing system released by Secretary Paul Pate, is now accepting online filings of new business formation documents for Iowa’s businesses.
An estimated 30 percent of new filings are rejected each year due to errors in application, Pate said, errors that the online application is programmed to catch immediately. Correcting errors in paper-filed applications can take up to four weeks to remedy and send back through the mail.
“The volume that we see here is overwhelming,” Pate said. “We’re looking at about 60,000 phone calls a year from small businesses calling in, asking questions or wanting help … and we have about 12,000 walk-ins who come in to get the paperwork processed or get assistance in some fashion.
“We figured this was going to save us about 70 hours” of labor by staff each week, Pate said. “That’s the staff time we hope to redirect to customer service.”
Fast Track Filings has been in development since October using fees raised by the Technology Modernization Fund, which increased filing rates for the secretary of state’s office from $30 to $45. That fund is authorized to raise up to $2 million a year through July 2022.
“In all fairness, our technology was a little embarrassing, looking more like something before Bill Gates even came on the scene,” Pate said. “Now the staff has some tools — now we just need to give the staff some time to build the things that customers here deserve.”
Staff members are continuing to digitize 3 million to 5 million business documents, in addition to the 7 million electronic documents already stored by the secretary of state’s office.
“The biggest challenge … is we want to get it cataloged in a format that users can access it and pull up what they need,” Pate said. “If you need to access something, you should be able to use our library.
“We had a lot of dedicated staff who just held it together, but the staff was getting a little frayed and a little worn out, and we couldn’t keep the pace,” he added. “These new technology upgrades are significant and allow us to not have to count on staff working 60-hour weeks.”
Kate Hayden, Staff Writer, Des Moines Business Record