Office of the Attorney General, Washington D.C.

Streamlining criminal trial processes

PROBLEM

The OAG was struggling to support attorneys and staff in pre- and post-trial processes with basic tasks like reviewing evidence. Legacy on-premise file shares and SharePoint didn't support the integrations attorneys needed, were too unwieldy for internal and external collaboration and were too difficult for IT to manage.

 

SOLUTION

Box is the central hub for the OAG to review and share evidence as part of the court record during criminal trials. Box acts as a unified content layer across a best-of-breed tech stack including Office 365, Outlook, Adobe Signature, Abacus and Salesforce. The OAG is also testing using Box Skills to create transcripts from body-worn police cameras.

 

OUTCOME

Delivery of legal services is improved because attorneys and staff can focus on their work and not on searching for information. Productivity has increased while the load on IT has decreased. Security and compliance risks are reduced. 

The movie Minority Report painted a picture of a futuristic Washington D.C. with crime-fighting largely dependent on psychic technology to predict who is about to break the law. In real life today, there's no psychic software at work in D.C., as thrilling (and problematic) as that sounds. But there is a team of individuals working to advance criminal justice powered by cutting-edge technology in the cloud.
Charged with defending the laws of the District of Columbia, the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) provides legal advice to the District’s government agencies and protects the interests of its citizens. The OAG's goal is to be the nation’s most effective and respected public law office, and leaders there are building a progressive tech stack to support that ambitious vision. In addition to AI-enhanced test cases that identify patterns within crucial content, the OAG has established a paperless digital workplace for its 400 attorneys and 200 support staff, with tools like Box, Office 365 and DocuSign supporting heightened collaboration, more fluid processes and secure mobility.

As CIO of the OAG, Chris Tonjes says, "My personal talent is fixing things that are broken. There are definitely changes we can introduce rapidly to make it easier for people to do their work, to make their lives better." Tonjes is leading the digital revolution at the OAG, from the basics of collaborating on files in the cloud to the cutting edge of AI, to optimize the delivery of justice in one of the highest-profile civic governments in the US.

 

"When I look at all the potential projects we're doing, I rank them by how much they'll make people's lives easier."

Chris Tonjes, CIO, Office of the Attorney General, Washington D.C.

 

Leaning in to the next level of AI

As much buzz as AI gets these days, and as much potential as it holds, it can be complicated to execute within the budget and resource limitations almost every organization has. Tonjes brings vision to his role as holder of the technology big picture for the organization, but equally important, an attention to detail and a knack for doing things at the right pace.

The AI initiatives the OAG currently has in place include using AI to sift through large volumes of documents and look for certain patterns. For instance, the organization is using its own custom AI to detect duplicate charges in vendor invoices, so it isn't charged twice for products or services. This process, which used to require laborious manual processing, is now largely automated.

The OAG is also testing using Box Skills to create transcripts from body-worn cameras used by law enforcement officers, making it that much easier for prosecutors to review video evidence during cases. Tonjes and his team hope to eventually use Box Skills for more sophisticated AI efforts, such as developing pattern recognition to recognize individuals across multiple videos — witnesses or repeat offenders, for instance. "Being able to see those linkages is really important," says Tonjes.

Box

Beyond Box Skills, to better serve citizens directly, the OAG is planning to launch an AI-powered chatbot in 2019 that will answer questions about routine matters like child support and tenancy issues. The chatbot will walk people through how to file paperwork and potentially help them upload documents as well. In addition to criminal justice, the OAG is committed to improving the lives of everyday citizens on everyday issues, and is leveraging AI to do so.  

 

"We find Box to be a really great platform for innovation."

Chris Tonjes, CIO, Office of the Attorney General, Washington D.C.

Starting with a secure, unified content platform

The OAG's AI initiatives are exciting, but none of it would be possible without a cohesive tech stack that makes it easy to find, share, manage, secure and collaborate on content. The move to Box was prompted by a perhaps pedestrian quandary: the organization had run out of space on its legacy on-premise servers. When Tonjes came in there was a SharePoint instance set up at the OAG, but he knew he needed something more for employees to effectively collaborate on content. "There have been numerous attempts to implement SharePoint here in Washington D.C. and they've usually ended in frustration and failure," he says. "We find that Box works a lot better and is easier for people to learn." 

Box gave the OAG unlimited storage space for content and more sophisticated permissions and auditable tracking for governance. Now, for instance, evidence shared in criminal trials can be uploaded to Box and shared as a part of the court record, giving the right people access to that evidence before, during and after trials. Box enables a paperless process that's highly collaborative but also allows the OAG to stay compliant with very strict regulations. 

 

"Documents need to go from person to person to person in a very secure way. That's what the workplace of the future looks like." 

 Chris Tonjes, CIO, Office of the Attorney General, Washington D.C.

Box

Integrations that enable the pursuit of justice

Tonjes does not consider content management to be a "one size fits all" strategy. One major benefit (and differentiator from SharePoint) he discovered in Box is that integrates well with other applications. "Integrations aren't easy to do with something like SharePoint. Our ability to use custom APIs is better and the load on our IT department is much lower with Box than if we were on SharePoint," Tonjes says. 

Office 365 is still the interface many OAG employees are most familiar with, and those files are instantly shareable and editable with Box. Other integrations with Adobe Signature, Salesforce and Abacus make processes fluid and familiar on a secure, robust cloud content platform. And the tightened integration between Box and Outlook is a huge boon for the OAG, since all of the department's law offices "live on Outlook," according to Tonjes.

It's doubtful that the future of crime fighting and prosecution will ever enter into the realm of Minority Report, and that's probably a good thing. But with AI and Cloud Content Management powering everyday tasks, government agencies like the OAG are better equipped to serve citizens and further the cause of justice.

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