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The State Public Defender Office brought its computerized Claims Review System (CRS) on line in March 2000. After the prototype shakedown, we started using CRS to manage the indigent defense claims program with the start of Fiscal Year 2001 (July 1, 2000 – June 30, 2001). Miscellaneous Claims (court reporters, experts, investigators, etc) were added to CRS beginning July 1, 2003. CRS began generating monthly reports in October 2001. Included in these reports are statistics on how fast the State Public Defender Office and the Fiscal Bureau of the Department of Inspections and Appeals processes fee claims.
The State Public Defender established two standards for each type of claim. The first standard was that we and DIA Fiscal would process 90% of claims within a certain time period – 30 days for Adult, Juvenile, and Appellate claims. The second standard was that the average processing time for all claims would be under a set time – again, 30 days for Adult, Juvenile, Appellate and Miscellaneous claims. In FY03 and FY04, we had 90% within 30 day and 30 day average standards but the increase in claims volume requires us, beginning in FY05, to have 90% within 35 day and 35 day average standards.
Our accountable processing time period begins when a claim arrives in our office. The effective date we enter it in the system is the date we receive it. If we receive a claim on Friday afternoon, but don’t enter it into CRS until the following Monday, the effective date is still Friday. If we put a claim in “pending” status because we need more information, the days it stays “pending” while we wait for a response from the claimant are still counted against our time. Our accountable time ends when DIA Fiscal forwards the claim to the Department of Revenue and Finance for issuance of a warrant, or when we terminate a claim.
Several factors influence the statistics for a given month. We handle more than 80,000 claims a year and the traffic isn’t consistent from month to month. An influx of claims in one month will slow us down, while a lighter month lets us process them faster. If we get several large and complicated claims in a month, that results in longer overall processing times. Personnel turnover and training periods for new people have an impact.
Finally, the more time we have to spend on correcting errors, requesting missing documentation, and resolving confusion adds to our processing times for all claims. Other than the sheer numbers of claims, the most significant factor affecting our time is the quality of the claim itself. Claimants who submit clear, fully itemized, and appropriately documented claims get their claims processed quickly.
Our performance graphs may be reviewed in Adobe Acrobat Reader.