This week, the United States is celebrating Sunshine Week, giving us the opportunity to highlight the importance of open government. Offering citizens access to state documents is one of the primary ways that government organizations can promote freedom of information. Because technology allows instantaneous access to information, it’s crucial that government agencies are meeting citizen expectations through transparent records management.
With a polarized political climate, it is important now more than ever that government agencies abide by transparency mandates to help citizens see how their government is working for them. Not only does this practice keep government agencies accountable, but it also promotes a culture of trust between the government and the people it serves. However, it isn’t always that easy.
Thanks to a heightened public interest in politics, government agencies are being inundated with public record requests. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the systems in place to handle the influx of requests. Budget, bottlenecks and legacy systems are among the top reasons that access to public records is sometimes delayed, or even non-existent.
Collin County, TX, was drowning in paper records; thousands of boxes held over 28 million pages of information. Once a citizen made a records request, the files needed to be manually retrieved. As you can imagine, instantaneous access to public records was not an option for the citizens of Collin County and transparency was lacking as a result. Collin County lacked the budget and manpower to keep up with citizen demand for records requests.
Knowing that they needed a better records management system to streamline operations, Collin County implemented Laserfiche as their software solution to digitally organize their documents.
After deploying Laserfiche, Collin County was able to:
- Expedite document search and retrieval with instant, digital access to records
- Provide public access to agendas, permits and other documents with simple, Section 508-compliant web portals
- Speed response times to permit requests and other applications with customizable electronic forms
- Enable council members, case workers, public works employees, law enforcement and others to view and submit the most up-to-date files on mobile devices
Collin County was able to better serve its constituents and they saw a great return on investment. The County’s newly established document management solution enabled them to:
- Convert 55 million documents into images stored in a digital repository
- Increase open storage space by 68 percent in 4 years
- Eliminate 500 boxes of motor vehicle receipts per year
- Recover $1 million lost each year in interest from the Tax Assessor’s office
- Save at least $50,000 in staff time looking up property tax information