Preserving Historical Employment Records at the Tax and Employment History Office
The Tax and Employment History office Team is expediting the process of providing employment and pension payment histories for compensation claims, but a significant amount of historical employment (between the years of 1940-2013) data is physically stored on microfiche and microfilm. The Tax office has a statutory function- and public interest in retaining these records. The employment records are stored in a temperature-controlled and technological environment, "the chiller," the nature of this media means the records are deteriorating, and the technology to read them is obsolete. The current processes for retrieving these employment records are manual, clunky, and resource intensive. There is multiple billion records, mainly the employer tax returns, the vital taxpayer record to assess any claim request cases from the public. These records are in constant use, with over 1000s of requests daily to the tax office team for legacy employment information related to critical industrial illness, sales tax records and pay and pension information from Individual taxpayers, solicitors and other government bodies and agencies. Currently, microfiche records are kept in a chiller environment for preservation. However, the tax office is set to vacate its current location for a new regional centre, and it's unlikely the new location will include such facilities. As a result, the tax office has explored multiple digitization solution options with Data Protection and Treasury teams.
Individual Tax Payers can request their employment history if they are making a compensation claim in a situation like industrial injury, a road accident, medical negligence or hardship Etc. The caseworker team working on the claims performing the employment record searches was time-consuming as they involved going through data manually, often based on limited information. Sometimes, people were forced to wait more than a year for their details. In addition, most of these records from before the mid-1970s are on microfiche and are very hard to access; the machines necessary to identify the issue aren't made anymore. The tax has only a minimal number of operational microfiche machines, and even those break down frequently; the replacement parts are scarce, and it is even hard to find engineers with the skills to fit them.
A simple employment history request from an external body asking for the employee's tax record may sometimes return more than one record, which will lead the caseworker to confusion and make them work hard since there is no other digital system to check and verify the record's authenticity. Hence, the scenarios like working for more than one employer within a single tax year or the damaged image in the microfilm or lost record about an employee are some of the exceptional use cases found during the actual implementation of the project. Unusual situations like this added more to the scope of integrating the platform with more than one external system like the National employment history database system, the need for an OCR system, and the auto sequence of microfilm number from the range given in the tape's label Etc.
Coforge has worked with the tax office for over a few years, helping them build their workflow and content management systems to support their case management teams. For this business problem, Coforge has proposed a multiple-phased solution to the project to digitally transform multi billion tax and pension records stored on more than half a million microfiche reels of tape to a new digitized format and make them accessible to business teams and the tax records team within the tax office’s customer service team.
The new digitized platform will allow the caseworkers to view records through a User Interface (UI) using a unique microfilm number derived from another digital platform system within the Government’s Tax Office. During the planning stage, Coforge identified many improvements to the existing change management process. In addition, the Coforge Technical team worked with the Tax Office’ IT team to get the QA and design approvals for the new products and solution design for each specific component involved and the parties responsible for those components.
Coforge and the Tax Office have undertaken the necessary supplier assurance reviews on the final technical solution implemented by all the suppliers (AWS Microsoft, OpenText and EDM/Restore); the suppliers have provided a complete account of the physical security measures of their platforms and solutions where the data flows.
Tax Office case team ships tapes to EDM (scanning partner).
Government’ Tax Office
Scanning/Uploads – The Scanning Partner EDM transfers the data from Tapes to AWS Snowball device. EDM(Restore) ships device to AWS for upload to Cloud.
Cloud partner where the new solution will be hosted plus the solution provider who ships and receives the AWS Snowball device with the scanned images.
The technical team who coordinates with all the involved teams and responsible for
Ordering Snowball device from AWS and shipping to EDM(Restore)
Setting the standard for the transfer of metadata of the video files and common information about the original tape and tax year etc.
Implementing the InfoArchive platform to store the images for business retrieval and is also responsible for OCR/ICR service integration.
Customizing the interface connection for metadata extraction and integration to validate the images and conclude the case response after validating against the employee records stored in the National tax records repositories.
OCR/ICR solution from OpenText service provider. Extract and store Employee Name, Employer Name and the Tax Year info from microfilm images into InfoArchive.
Apart from achieving this primary objective of digitizing the employment records for the secured storage of taxpayers' information, this project has changed the lives of caseworkers to search for the information needed in a few minutes instead of spending hours and days running reels inside microfilm machines. That's what is considered to be a massive success of the project, allowing the case workers to use modern computer facilities rather than century-old microfilm machines and doing heavy lifting manual work to move physical tapes from the chiller rooms to their workplaces. The previous timescale for cases to be responded to was up to 218 days; under the new process, the timescale for responses is 30 days.