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State Court of Justice of Sao Paulo's digital transformation serves citizens up to 70% faster

By Microsoft on February 9, 2017

Filed under Public Safety and Justice

Back in 2005, Brazil passed a law that enable judicial entities to receive processes in the digital format. Then, a few years ago Rosely Castilho, CIO of TJSP, saw an opportunity to implement a change in the way the court did business. She needed help to design a long-term plan that would drive the organization and modernize the court, resulting in TJSP’s ability to operate more efficiently, for its 50,000 employees to better serve the State of Sao Paulo’s 50 million citizens, and to comply with Federal law.

Trapped in a sea of cars, honking horns and screeching brakes, frustrated drivers in this city endure some of the world’s worst traffic every day.

This is the daily commute scene in South America’s most populous city, Sao Paulo, Brazil, notorious for its traffic congestion, stretching over 100 miles on an average day. Similarly sluggish was the state’s paper-based judicial system, The State Court of Justice of Sao Paulo (TJSP), literally buried under an avalanche of paper so heavy it was causing structural damage to some of its buildings.

Imagine being one of the city’s 20 million residents trying to conduct business with the court, say, to register a petition. You drive through torturous traffic to the court building and wait in long lines in one of the court’s 700 buildings.

Seeing her city’s citizens suffer these inefficiencies was unacceptable to Rosely Castilho, the court’s Chief Information Officer, who has been working at TJSP for over 30 years.

Besides the bureaucratic processes, the court’s costs were rapidly rising as it struggled to meet the needs of the growing populace. TJSP needed to hire more people, which meant it needed more Sao Paulo office space, some of the highest-priced building rentals in the world.

The current state wasn’t sustainable

Back in 2005, Brazil passed a law that enable judicial entities to receive processes in the digital format. Then, a few years ago Rosely saw an opportunity to implement a change in the way the court did business. She needed help to design a long-term plan that would drive the organization and modernize the court, resulting in TJSP’s ability to operate more efficiently, for its 50,000 employees to better serve the State of Sao Paulo’s 50 million citizens, and to comply with Federal law. She set up the last implementation process in January 2015.

“Our vision was to provide better services to the population”, said Rosely. “Overall, the expectation was that we needed to change the perception that we were formal and bureaucratic and that we were slow to attend to their needs.”

Clear choice to lead massive project

Rosely’s court already had a strong relationship with Microsoft, since the court’s 50,000 employees were already using the company’s operating system and family of products. Also, its technical specialists already had been trained to operate the company’s products.

So when it came to going all-in on the 100% digital push that would transform one of the largest courts in the world, the biggest in South America, Rosely leveraged both her prior experience and the Microsoft Enterprise Strategy Program to accelerate the 100% digital initiative.

“Microsoft was the only company, the only provider who could support the size and scope of the Court of Justice of Sao Paulo and the population of Sao Paulo without any stops in service,” the CIO said.

The task was enormous. By the end of 2015, all new judicial processes needed to be stored digitally in databases, 50,000-plus employees needed to be trained to operate digital processes, and governance policies needed to be established. Adding complexity to this process was the sensitivity of the court’s information, because the highest degree of security and privacy, as well as business continuity in the event of a disaster, needed to be implemented.

A model of modernity

TJSP was one of the first state courts in Brazil to undergo a digital transformation. It conducts more than 25% of the country’s proceedings, the widest-used state court in Brazil. Its success – or failure – would be magnified by its stature as the judicial system responsible for one of the largest population centers in South America.

With a goal of reaching 100% digital in 2015, the team finished by the end of November, a month ahead of the deadline.

Culture change

Just a few weeks into the digital transformation, Sao Paulo residents have already noticed the change. Rosely has started to overhear positive remarks outside of the office. She smiles when she sees drastically shorter lines at court buildings.

TJSP reports that the new digital processes reduce up to 70% of the time it used to take to do the physical process of moving, storing and retrieving paper. Also, transparency is increased with information more easily available for consultation and procedural acts.

Nowadays, citizens conduct simple court services from their home computers, such as requesting certification of legal standing or receiving updates on their court cases, instead of wasting time in traffic and lines. Judges rapidly access information remotely and make informed decisions much faster, increasing their productivity by 50%. Lawyers research cases and gather information to develop client cases more efficiently. Most importantly, TJSP reports that processing of new cases has accelerated by 87%.

A typical process, such as registering some information, used to take an average of 21 minutes. Now it takes 2 minutes. With robust search engines, lawyers can find information using far less time and energy.

One Sao Paulo family recently saw the immediate benefits when they sued a health insurance company to get a medical device for their baby. On the same day they filed a request, the family received a favorable injunction from the judiciary, inciting the local media to call the response “the fastest sentence ever of Sao Paulo’s justice system.”

Within two weeks, the court issued a decision that the family had the right to obtain from the health carrier the needed medical device, a brace for the baby’s skull.

“I’m proud about how we changed the entire culture of this institution,” Rosely said. “There’s been a change in how the citizens see us, how the judges feel, how the people who work in the office and serve the population feel. The negative feelings of the past have converted into positive.”

Massive time saved

So far in 2015, 2.5 million processes have been digitized, saving 850,000 working hours or nearly 100 years. Next year the numbers will be even more impressive: 4.7 million digital actions saving 1.5 million hours, and the 11 million petitions filed digitally will save the court a remarkable 3 million working hours, or nearly 400 years.

As an example, TJSP recently deployed a digital tax foreclosure system in five days, a task that would’ve taken four months in the past.

“Automating processes has enabled us to be more efficient, by reducing the steps citizens have to follow, and office workers needed to support,” Rosely said. “It makes a difference in meeting our state budget and in the quality of decisions for our growing population.”

These efficiency gains were timely considering the court’s cost structure had spiraled out of control with the rapid hiring of new workers and the needed expansion to more buildings at tremendous expense. Also, some employees now have the option to work from home, which has been another way to reduce real estate costs.

Timelier communication

For 77 years the Court has published the Official Journal, a special newsletter that covered judges’ decisions and rulings. It was a slow process that included delivery of the information to the printing center, then transportation of 10,000 newsletters to stores where people purchased the publication. Citizens craved the information, but never knew exactly when it would be available. That’s all changed since the digital transformation.

“People know that 8 a.m. the following day they will be able to see all the official government announcements,” Rosely said.

Disaster ready

In 2010, a flood hit the Forum de Sao Luiz do Paraitinga. To recover the building, it was necessary to recover and sanitize all the sheets of more than 2,100 processes affected by water and mud.

After this, the documents were scanned one by one. Paraitinga became the first city in the state to have new and old processes 100% digital, with the possibility of visualizing all the pages online.

That’s one of the advantages of this new justice model.

Sustainable business

Over the next five years, nearly 5 million kilograms of paper will be saved by going digital, which translates into 115,172 trees, or 1,035 soccer fields.

Additionally, more than 440,000 cubic meters of water won’t be used over the next five years, a big deal for the megacity suffering its worst drought in more than 80 years. Also, 13,507 tons of CO2 emissions will be saved.

“The President of the Court is proud of the sustainability of this initiative,” Rosely said. “The number of trees that we are saving by going from paper to digital means many good things for the Earth. And we are talking about power, talking about water – all key elements that we’re very proud of.”

What’s next

Realizing the extraordinary efficiencies gained by the 100% digital program, judges and other court employees want more. They’re pushing for more mobile services, like web conferencing and training, and to receive more information on their smartphones.

“We want to go faster, be better, have better quality and we’re counting on Microsoft to enable us to do those things with new technologies,” Rosely said.

Sao Paulo’s traffic is still terrible, but TJSP is doing its part to ameliorate it.

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