RD438 - Study for Transition to All Electronic Submission of all Information and Forms – October 31, 2016

Executive Summary:
This study was commissioned to evaluate capabilities and abilities to transition Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) data collections to E-Submission format. To reach this goal, an understanding of all the processes involved in creating, changing, and managing data collections was required.

Analysis Methodology

To complete this study, we initially reviewed all available information contained within VDOE’s website supporting the individual departments and the data collections they manage. We then met with the Education Information Management (EIM) team to understand the technical environment available and the capabilities it provides to the organization as a whole. Through conversation with EIM Data Management Stewards we gained an understanding of the standard process for updating existing and creating new data collections. Finally, we learned how data collections work when using the standard E-Submission capabilities built into the supporting environment.

Next, we facilitated comprehensive interviews with individual VDOE departmental offices to reconcile the published and documented data collections referred to as the ‘Calendar of Reports.’ Likewise, we identified other referenced unofficial data collections and sought out other mandated data collections that were not identified during our earlier discovery.

The final step was to apply our knowledge of the current environment and create a working definition of what E-Submission means within that context. This definition is the foundation of the rest of the study as it specifically identifies the true end goal of each data collection in transitioning all VDOE data collections to using an only E-Submissions model.

Definition of E-Submission

A standard definition of Electronic Submission, or E-Submission is submitting by electronic means via email, web form, file upload, or an electronic medium such as compact discs, hard disks, memory cards, or USB flash drives. This is a very broad definition that contains submission methods that are not practical when there are 132 school districts providing data at various times during the year to the departments and offices of VDOE. For this study, the definition used was designed to provide the lowest level of human intervention in order to maximize the value of the time of both the school division and VDOE staff.

The use of any external media such as compact discs and drives was not considered as these are not practical ways to collect information when methods exist that can provide the ability to transmit the data in a safe and secure environment using 100% online capabilities. This also prevents any interception of these physical devices.

Email was also removed from the definition as it will still require a significant manual effort to extract the attached data from the email, store it, and then perform an upload.

Additionally, as school system data can involve personally identifiable information (PII) on students and even school staff, email is not a secure enough method of transmitting these types of information.

So for this study, an E-Submission is submitting required data collections through a forms-based tool for data entry or a data file upload tool through VDOE’s Single Sign-on for Web Systems (SSWS) access portal. These E-Submissions use automated email notifications for communicating on the progress of a data collection for a school division and where possible, employ digital signatures to reduce both paper consumption and time spent sending, faxing, or digitizing signed physical documents.

Types of E-Submission in Use

Using the above definition, we have identified the following types of E-Submission currently in use by VDOE.

• Data entry forms tools
• Data upload tools
• Spreadsheet upload tools