February 2015 Vital Records News

February 2015

Vital Records News

Spotlight: OVR Issuance Unit

If you ordered a birth or death certificate from the Office of Vital Records (OVR) by mail, fax, or email attachment in November, 2014, your wait would have been about 35 business days. If you placed that same order today, you'll most likely get your certificate in about two weeks. Such is the progress made by OVR's Issuance Unit! The state is working hard to take care of the backlog of requests and improve customer service.

Issuance crew

Issuance team

Sitting, left to right: Jenny Jandro, Nicole Bouthilet, Ann Porwoll.
Standing, left to right: Scott Fried, Tim Baumgart, Julene Erickson, Jacki Bellefeuille, Laurie Studer, Brenda Shinaul, supervisor.

By building awareness, examining the internal processes, identifying and then eliminating a few unnecessary tasks - using a project improvement process called "LEAN" - the OVR Issuance Unit was able to cut the processing time by 60 percent! This means that routine requests that arrive by fax, mail or email are currently being processed within 1-3 weeks.

A few other factors that contributed to the improvement:

  • Dividing work among functions and working as a team to manage the requests each day
  • Re-instituting the expedite fee to help prioritize work and meet customers’ urgent requests
  • Filling critical positions with well-qualified employees
  • Depositing payments and entering customer requests the same day. This improved organization and the ability to look up customer requests, and respond to customer inquiries about the status of the requests.

Even though the busy season of traveling and customers’ needs for passports is here, Issuance Team members are confident they will be able to continue processing certificates quickly and keep the turnaround time within an acceptable number of days.

OVR is the third largest issuer of vital records documents in the state. County vital records offices issue about 95 percent of the birth and death certificates statewide. In 2014, OVR issued nearly 19,000 certified birth certificates and nearly 4,000 certified death certificates in response to requests. More than 200,000 birth certificates were issued statewide in 2014. Thank you everyone for your work in getting customers the certificates they need.

These are all reasons to shine a "Spotlight" on the Issuance Unit!

Money-saving tips for funeral homes

Attention, funeral homes: are you spending a lot of money on death certificates, amendments, and re-issued death certificates?

Before you place an order for death certificates in MR&C: 

  • Verify the fact of death information with the informant/family
  • Understand that you won’t have a chance to make any corrections; counties print death certificate orders almost immediately after the cause of death has been filed

These considerations can save you the time and expense of having to amend death records, purchase new certificates, and make the family wait.

If you have ordered certificates and the county hasn’t fulfilled your order, you may void or modify your request. Instructions for doing this may be found on the dedicated MDH website for funeral directors and staff.


Olmsted County innovation

Olmsted County Vital Records and Licensing made it easier for funeral homes to pick up death certificates without standing in line.

Printed death certificates are placed in locked post office boxes assigned to individual area funeral homes. Funeral home staff members have their own key and can pick up the certificates they requested during county hours. Christina Benson, Olmsted County Vital Records Lead Clerk, suggested the idea about three years ago. She says, “The boxes are convenient for us and them. They allow a quick, easy and secure way to pick up certificates without waiting or cutting in line. It’s a win for everyone.”


The Minnesota Department of Administration has extended the security paper contract with Northern Bank Note/Sekuworks through Jah. 31, 2016. The process to order paper, the costs, delivery, and reporting of any problems remains the same.

Report any problems with security paper to OVR by e-mailing John Marino at john.marino@state.mn.us.

The Office of Vital Records is working on incorporating additional security features into the paper that Minnesota receives. And OVR is working to update the name of the office that appears in the lower right seal. These new features and name change involve creating new printing plates.

The new plates will be made soon, but no decisions have been made about the design. OVR will communicate more information as it becomes available. These changes to the design will not impact the contract or any other processes in place.

Did you know? A subject’s time of birth and parent's place of birth are not required to be on a birth certificate for passport applications. In MR&C, some pre-electronic (historical) birth records have these data items completed and some do not.

These data items will be added by OVR only when a customer requests them to be added. If the certificate has been issued without the subject’s time of birth and parent's place of birth, and that certificate does not meet the customer’s need, contact OVR to make the correction, and that certificate can be exchanged at no cost to the customer.

If you are new to registering births or if you have never been formally trained in MR&C, a new interactive course offers all the basics with hands-on experience to build your skills and knowledge. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS) are offering "Vital Records Birth Registration 101" to help you develop professionally and meet your state requirements for MR&C security.
Choose between two four-hour training sessions: Tuesday, March 17 from 12-4 p.m. or Thursday, March 19 from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. at the MDH Orville L. Freeman Building, 625 Robert Street North, St. Paul, Minn. 55155-2538.
The course is free and refreshments are included, but seating is limited. Email Sally.Almond@state.mn.us to reserve your spot! You’ll receive additional class information upon registration.