KAHULUI, Hawaii — Maui County has launched a centralized platform making it easier for the public and the media to request public records in accordance with the Uniform Information Practice Act.

The portal powered by GovQA is secure and enhances transparency and improves customer service, according to a news release.

People can now track their requests online and can share information using self-serve tools and auto-follow functions. The online intake form narrows down requests for improved accuracy and reduces the need for clarification. In addition, the system cuts down on paperwork and frees staff time.

The launch of the portal will help to streamline and improve the UIPA process as the county struggles with limited staffing and resources.

In a news release by the State of Hawaii Office of Information Practices, the agency congratulated Maui County stating the platform utilizing new technology could be a model for other state and county agencies in Hawaii.

“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 County of Maui First Deputy Corporation Counsel Mimi Desjardins, in the release.

The new platform came about following the Aug. 2023 Maui wildfires that caused an unprecedented number of requests for public records.

The new portal will initially be available for departments most impacted by wildfire-related UIPA requests such as the Department of Fire and Public Safety, Maui Police Department, Maui Emergency Management Agency, Office of the Mayor and others. The county plans to expand the portal to all departments in the future.