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Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

County to improve document access

April 25, 2006

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Douglas County government offices are moving into a modern era of digital electronics for storing and managing documents.

County commissioners Monday approved the purchase of equipment and a data system for $347,782 from Cutting Edge Solutions Inc. The final price was negotiated with CES.

Once installed, the new system will mean fast retrieval of documents electronically, flexible indexing and full-text research, said County Clerk Jamie Shew.

Shew and other department representatives served on a steering committee that studied proposals submitted by CES and three other companies that submitted proposals for the project.

The system will allow for better access to old documents that need to be preserved without having to handle them, Shew said.

"We have a lot of documents that are 100 years old and I'm working with the historical society on how to preserve them," he said.

The new system will allow for better tracking of files and documents and their security, Shew said.

"We can find out who has had access to them," he said.

Shew and Jim Lawson, the county's director of information technologies, also touted the system's efficiency.

"I think you spend a lot of time just looking for records; seeing whose desk they are on," Lawson said.

But in approving the purchase, Commissioners Bob Johnson and Charles Jones said they wanted to know more details about how secure the system would be and a better idea at how system's efficiency would affect future staffing of county offices. They asked that those details be provided later. Commissioner Jere McElhaney was absent from the meeting.

Shew said, as an example, the system would probably allow him to reduce the number of people he has working on real estate records in his office. He currently has two people working in that area full time and one part time.

"I'm not saying we'd get rid of a bunch of people, but I think it would be through attrition," he said.

Commissioners and department heads will have to determine how far back they want to go in entering older documents into the system. A temporary staff might be needed to handle that job, Assistant County Administrator Pam Madl said.

Documents entered into the system can be stored electronically in different locations, decreasing the likelihood they could be lost in a disaster, Lawson said.

The county could begin a pilot project with the system in about six weeks, Lawson said.

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