It’s all in the details: Port Records Officer Mason Kae
A mix of public records, history and detective work just barely begins to describe Mason Kae’s role at the Port of Vancouver USA. An integral staff member, Kae is the port’s records officer and is an internal and external resource. In less than three years, he has made the position his own.
“I think of my job as two components: public disclosure and records management,” explained Kae. Under RCW 42.56.580, the Washington State Public Records Act requires agencies to appoint a public records officer to serve as a point of contact for members of the public in requesting disclosure of public records. This position also oversees the agency’s compliance with the comprised public records disclosure requirements. It’s a critical role that requires an adept individual – not only are you working with internal staff, but the public as well.
“Records are crucial – they’re a resource for the public to what has already happened or is happening,” said Kae. “What most people don’t know is that I’m here to help them. When a member of the public submits a records request or a coworker asks for help, I WANT to help them. Ensuring government transparency is critical and my responsibility is to help fulfil that.”
The term ‘records’ brings to mind boxes and boxes of historical documents, but with the capabilities of today’s technology the transition to a virtual format is a natural move.
“Another focus of my work is transforming and organizing documents, but the real adventure is the uncommon detective work,” explains Kae.
Always up for a challenge, Kae is a detective when it comes to public disclosure. The process of fulfilling a public records request (PRR) includes a set of purposeful steps that guarantees the requestor receives the correct information. When asked what helps deliver prompt and accurate results, Kae immediately went to the port’s online PRR form.
“Initial searches can bring back thousands of results – a recent request had over 9,000 initial search results,” illustrated Kae. “The port’s online PRR form addresses key information required to fulfill a request, which helps specify what the requestor is looking for and ultimately helps me deliver the correct information.”
With the impacts the COVID-19 pandemic has caused in everyday operations, not much has changed in Kae’s world.
“One of the proclamations issued by Governor Jay Inslee concerned public records requests, in which we could delay fulfilling requests by a ‘reasonable amount of time,’ but we have not utilized this because of our robust process,” said Kae.
When asked what’s next for 2021, Kae breaks into a smile and announces that he’ll be applying for the Washington Association of Public Records Officers certification later this year. This will build upon Kae’s steadfast dedication and enthusiasm for this field.
As a public agency, the port strives to provide leadership, partnership and stewardship in all aspects of our operations, and we’re glad Mason Kae is on our team taking public records disclosure and records management to the next level!