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Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS) Insider

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Issue 18 December 9, 2009

Welcome to EAMS Insider, the newsletter about the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).

The Division of Workers’ Compensation fields many questions from injured workers, employers, attorneys, insurers, lien claimants, and others about the new system. This newsletter was created to answer those questions and share information. Every month, EAMS Insider will provide information on new developments and what to expect during this transition. Bulletins will also be sent to subscribers for important announcements. (Sign up to be a subscriber at EAMS@dir.ca.gov.)

What you need to know

For a quick primer on EAMS, point your browser to www.dwc.ca.gov/eams. There, you will find project details, FAQs, OCR forms and sample filings, blogs from DWC Judge Colleen Casey, application demos and a glossary. Even if you have visited the Web site before, be sure to check back often for updates, “how to” guides and other useful tools.

EAMS updates

What’s the status of the EAMS Access Project, which was the subject of Insider items in past months? A lot of work has been done since last January’s public meeting in Oakland to determine ways to improve current filing methods and increase access to EAMS for external users. Here is an update:

Shortly after the public meeting, a working group—including representatives from insurance, attorneys, injured workers, lien claimants and others—was formed to create a second-generation electronic filing method to succeed e-forms. (While electronic forms are more efficient than OCR paper forms, they can only be entered into EAMS one at a time, which makes them impractical for larger entities, and also results in errors that have to be fixed before they go into the system.)

The working group later broke into smaller groups with specific tasks, such as policy development and improving current filing methods. Several technical groups were formed to tackled such questions as what do externals need in the bulk filing mechanism and what should the mechanism be? The groups worked in parallel, met multiple times, and gave their results to a project manager. They also completed a set of requirements.

The working groups gathered Nov. 19 in Oakland to share their findings on a new filing method. The day began with reports on what each of the working groups has accomplished over the last several months, which were provided by working group members. Here is a brief report:

The tech group tasked with establishing the draft requirements for a new electronic filing method pointed to LegalXML as the standard to be used for data exchange in the new filing mechanism. This group also drafted a set of “must have” requirements for filing, broken down into five categories. These requirements are being reviewed by DWC and DIR IS staff to determine their inclusion in the final project:

Acknowledgements

  • Provide acknowledgement of transmitted submissions and filing status  
  • Provide notification of planned outages
  • Provide a complete summary of errors contained within the transaction after it has been processed by the EAMS batch interface

Filing in bulk

  • Provide filing capability
  • Define a single standard for connectivity  
  • Define standards valid for all submissions
  • Define an industry standard format to be used for attachments
  • Automate preservation of the original filing date for 15 days, as required by the court administrator’s rules
  • Support electronic signatures on incoming documents
  • Replace the cover sheet and separator sheet with a data header
  • Provide list of all data elements, validations and business rules that will be required for successful filing of each form
  • Publish and maintain a complete list of edits on a form-by-form basis
  • Form template should be rendered in the same format used by the end user and DWC
  • Provide the ability to file additional and amended liens
  • Provide the ability to file documents under seal
  • Provide a working test environment and minimum standards for external users

Security/confidentiality

  • Provide the capability to protect transmissions to and from the division
  • Require security and audit trails for all transactions into DWC

Other requirements

  • Facilitate the filing of the unrepresented QME reports to the DEU
  • Define the rules for 3rd party filers concerning the retention of data filers

Technical requirements

  • Provide open solution that is operating system agnostic

The tech group also included some requirements that were less essential, such as the ability to pre-populate and auto-populate forms. Group member Joel Hecht, of software vendor SpeedComp—who provided the working group update to the entire advisory committee—acknowledged the contribution of Robert Gilbert of the Dept. of Industrial Relations in assembling the requirements and said the collective was ready to start work on implementing them.

“We want to see it through to the end, so when we flip that switch we’ll all have something we’re proud of,” summed up Hecht. “We need a test environment, and … we need to build the darn thing.”

One of the requirements for electronic filing is electronic signatures, which was the focus of another working group. One issue that needs to be solved is cost, said member Linda Atcherley, an applicant attorney, who reported on the progress of the electronic signature group.

Also reporting at the meeting was the survey group, which seeks the number of potential EAMS users, an understanding of potential EAMS use patterns, and also to find out what users’ needs are. Vanita Bhatia of State Compensation Insurance Fund, who is on the survey committee, said that a special survey was sent to 705 case participants, who were randomly selected from the EAMS data base, the e-form filers group and attendants of the DWC Educational Conference. As of Nov. 19, a total of 275 people had responded. The survey subcommittee will meet soon to discuss the results and prepare them for release. “It gives us further clarification on what our external users’ priorities are so we can adjust our priorities accordingly,” said Susan Gard, DWC’s chief of policy and legislation. 

An additional factor in the access project is the Office of the Chief Information Officer, which oversees tech projects within state government. When DWC asked for additional funding for EAMS in 2008, the OCIO wanted information on several points before it would approve the funds. One of the OCIO’s requests was for a “stress test” that would determine EAMS’ ability to handle large volume transactions. Randy Curtis, the Dept. of Industrial Relations’ information security officer, told the group the plan for the stress test is ready to go, although a date has not yet been set.

With all of the ground work done by the various working groups, 2010 promises to be a year of change for EAMS.
 
“We’ll definitely be sharing information with the public as we go along,” said Gard. “Ultimately we’ll need regulations, so at some point in the near future we’ll have public hearings,” There may also be a bulk filing trial, similar to the e-forms trial.

“We don’t have a solid date when everyone can file electronically. But we’re working on it,” Gard said.


Pulling together celebration

DWC marked its first full year of EAMS by honoring its employees and external partners in separate ceremonies in Los Angeles and Sacramento, called the EAMS Year One “Pulling Together” celebration.

Dept. of Industrial Relations Director John Duncan spoke at the Los Angeles district office ceremony on Sept. 16, lauding the hard work and teamwork of DWC workers and the public on this monumental challenge. He handed out certificates to each district office in the Southern California region and thanked the division’s external partners, who have provided invaluable help during the transition. Among other speakers were DWC’s Susan Gard, attorneys Yvonne Lang of Perlman, Borska and Wax and sole practitioner Linda Atcherley.

Court Administrator Keven Star presented certificates to the Northern California district offices in Sacramento on Oct. 28, in that district office’s new office in Natomas. He also praised the division’s employees and the many people outside of the division who met the challenge of switching to a new technology and work practices. Speakers included DWC staffer Barbara Cleland and external partners Marc Glaser of Liberty Mutual and attorney Lorna Voboril.

The celebration also included an e-form filer demonstration, health and safety tips, and guided tours of the new Sacramento office at 160 Promenade Circle.

Court Administrator Keven Star and Presiding Judge Joel Harter of the Sacramento DWC office.
Court Administrator Keven Star and
Presiding Judge Joel Harter of the Sacramento DWC office.
Marc Glaser of Liberty Mutual,
Marc Glaser of Liberty Mutual, one of
DWC’s external partners, speaks at the Sacramento event.
Gina Garitson of Liberty Mutual,
Gina Garitson of Liberty Mutual, sole practioner and featured speaker Lorna Voboril, and Susan Gard of DWC.
DWC’s new Sacramento district office.
DWC’s new Sacramento district office.

Whiteley retires

William Whiteley, the presiding judge in DWC’s Santa Ana district office for the past seven years, retired this month after nearly 20 years with the division. Judge Whiteley started on the bench in 1990 in Norwalk (an office since closed) before becoming the presiding judge a little over a year later. He then did stints in Fresno, the Santa Ana lien unit and San Bernardino before returning to Santa Ana in the top position. Besides his time on the bench, he also served at various times as assistant administrative director, regional manager in Southern California, and on the board of directors of the conference of California Workers’ Compensation Judges. DWC is grateful for all of Judge Whiteley’s work for the division, and is glad that he will continue serving as a retired annuitant, so that his vast expertise can be utilized.

e-Forms update

The latest e-form filing webinar was hosted on Nov. 13 and has been posted on the DWC Web site.

The e-form filing reference guide has been updated and expanded. See the following areas:

  • Index
  • Amended applications
  • Request for consultative rating
  • Attachments
  • Liens
  • Asbestos cases
  • Document titles
  • Scanned attachments
  • Signature stamps

How you can help

When you have a question about filing, email EAMSHelpDesk@dir.ca.gov. Our experts will assist you.

When you have a concern or question related to EAMS, email EAMS@dir.ca.gov. We will make sure it gets to the right person.

EAMS Insider is published every month by the DWC Communications Office. It can also be found on the division’s Web site at www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/EAMS. Questions? Comments? Story ideas? Email EAMS@dir.ca.gov

EAMS Public Information Officer Peter Melton
510-286-7100