It is the goal of County Information Technology (IT) to meet the business needs of its constituents and workforce. We are all aware of the budget challenges that public sector organizations are facing, be they cities, special districts, school districts or counties. This current economic climate and the technology that we have today presents a “perfect storm” of opportunities to streamline business processes, to share common services, and to allow access to information and collaborate-regardless of location.
Listed below are examples of County IT meeting business needs with innovative technology:
CSS is Going Virtual!
The Department of Child Support Services (CSS) is using technology to improve business processes, implementing Document Imaging Solutions to virtualize the distribution of mail throughout the Agency and provide online access to Court documents.
In 2011, CSS manually processed approximately 325,000 pieces of incoming mail from customers, other jurisdictions, County agencies, and local child support agencies. CSS’s Project Management Office (PMO) partnered with Agency Operations staff to assess the current method of correspondence distribution. They identified business process improvements, appropriate distribution of mail, and resources to ensure business objectives would be met through the use of a virtual mail processing solution.
CSS is using the County of Orange OnBase Enterprise solution to develop their Virtual Mail system. The system includes imaging and indexing of incoming correspondence with predefined keywords for search, automated workflows, and electronic storage of documents.
Process improvements identified through the use of CSS Virtual Mail include:
- Online access to mail with automated workflows to route mail to designated team mailboxes and file cabinets
- Auto-fill keywords using data from the CSS case management system to streamline data entry
- Email alerts for priority mail
- Custom views and filters to manage and distribute workload
- Establishment of a master database to allow case workers to search and retrieve images.
Virtual Mail eliminates the manual processing of incoming mail. Time spent on manual processes will be drastically reduced and efficiencies gained by eliminating the need to physically route mail. More importantly, staff will benefit from the ability to immediately access documents online.
In collaboration with CEO/IT OnBase Specialists, the CSS Virtual Mail solution is being developed in three phases. The CSS PMO has finalized the workflows and business requirements for Phase I and is currently conducting User Acceptance Testing to validate the technical solution. Implementation of the Virtual Mail solution is scheduled to be released in January 2013.
In addition to the implementation of the Virtual Mail project, CSS is also using OnBase to develop an Electronic Litigation File (ELF) to be used by Court Operations staff and attorneys to access document images in the courtroom. Court staff previously kept physical documents required for court in file folders. CSS staff utilize these folders as they prepare for court, customer interviews, and court hearings. This paper-based system required CSS staff to gather and copy court documents, organize them in folders, and transport them to Lamoreaux Justice Center on a daily basis. ELF streamlines this process and eliminates the paper file folders. Attorneys prepare their cases, including case notes and document annotations, using the OnBase document imaging system and can access these files online using a laptop in the courtroom.
The OnBase system has provided the toolset for CSS to go virtual and improve business processes. These are just a couple examples of how CSS continues to improve customer service and gain efficiencies through the use of innovative technology!
OC Justice Partners Implement Wireless at the Courts
With the advanced use of computers in criminal justice proceedings, the Public Defender and District Attorney’s Offices began hardwiring courtrooms as needed to provide staff with access to Agency networks. This was a very expensive proposition and became even more difficult when the Superior Court moved operations from one courtroom to another.
In response to the need for more efficient and cost-effective methods of providing network access, Jerry Sakelaris of the Public Defender’s Office invited the Sheriff, Probation and the District Attorney to partner on a project to install wireless network connectivity in the courtrooms. The Justice Partners received funding from CEO/IT in FY 2007/08 to install a secure wireless network in a limited number of Adult Criminal arraignment courtrooms. The Justice Partners were successful in completing the installation of a secure wireless network in the majority of these courtrooms. This project built the foundation for the creation of an electronic courtroom that would allow for more efficient access to data and information.
The original wireless equipment reached its end of life in FY 2011/2012. The Justice Partners came together and decided there was a business need to upgrade the wireless access points in 51 courtrooms and deploy wireless to the remaining 94 courtrooms. A request was then submitted to CEO/IT for funding to support this next phase. As part of due diligence, the Justice Partners found that several other County Agencies (i.e., Health Care Agency, Child Support Services, Social Services Agency and County Counsel) would also benefit from wireless access in the courtrooms. The partners modified the scope of the project to allow any County Agency to use wireless access in the courts.
The budget for the expansion of the wireless network within courtrooms was approved, and in July 2011 the Justice Partners Wireless Project had its official kick-off. Jerry Sakelaris from the Public Defender’s Office was named the Project Manager. This was a one year project with an original completion date of June 30, 2012.
In October 2011, the project ran into an unexpected delay when the Courts requested a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the County and the Courts. The County Executive Office and County Counsel worked with the Justice Partners to establish the MOU. In April of 2012, the Board of Supervisors approved the MOU between the County and the Courts and the project completion date was reset to September 30, 2012.
By August of 2012, a full month before the revised completion date, the Justice Partners, along with the Courts, successfully completed both the upgrades of the wireless access points inside the 51 original courtrooms and the implementation of the 94 new wireless access points in the remaining courtrooms. Each participating Agency can now securely connect to their respective network from the Courts. Staff can access court documents online and in real time when in the courtroom, eliminating the time and cost to prepare hard copies of documents beforehand.
Thanks to the hard work and collaboration of the Public Defender, District Attorney, CEO, CEO/IT, County Counsel and Superior Court staff, the wireless project succeeded in meeting business objectives; a great example of County collaboration and teamwork!
Assessment Tax System (ATS II) is a Success
The Orange County Assessor is the first in California to successfully develop and implement a major new Assessment System. The new Assessment Tax System (ATS II) provides staff with the 21st century tools needed to effectively value and assess taxable property. This was a significant systems development project that was completed on time and with a lower total system cost than the original legacy system built between 1984 and 1991 (in adjusted dollars).
The ATS Re-Engineering Project was initiated in 2007 to update and move the legacy Assessment Tax system off the County mainframe. The mainframe-based version of ATS was developed 25 years ago using the IDEAL programming language, which the vendor began phasing out support for in the mid-2000s. The ATS II Re-Engineering project objective was to take advantage of newer technology and re-engineer the legacy ATS on a Microsoft .NET application platform and migrate to a lower cost blade server production environment.
The Assessor Department assembled a team of in-house subject matter experts and outside contract resources for this project. Xerox/ACS, the County IT contractor, provided the key application development resources for the project. CEO/IT provided the critical production hardware and network platform support. The project was also conducted in close coordination with the Property Tax Management System (PTMS) project that is supporting the Auditor-Controller, Clerk of the Board, and Treasurer-Tax Collector in related business functions.
The re-engineered system is comprised of modules that include existing and expanded ATS functionality. Using a design-build, iterative software development approach, ATS II was developed and deployed to production in August 2011. The new system was used to successfully develop and deliver the Fiscal Year 2012/13 Rolls of Value on schedule in July 2012. This was a significant ATS II milestone. The Secured Roll has 914,000 parcels (784,000 residential, 47,000 commercial/industrial and 83,000 timeshare, rural and other) with a valuation of over $408 billion. The Unsecured Roll has roughly 139,000 assessments (106,000 businesses, 32,000 boats and 790 aircraft) with a valuation of over $19 billion.
ATS II is intuitive, descriptive, more efficient, accessible, flexible in presentation, and provides department users with many benefits, including:
- Customizable screen views and page views that can be saved by users
- Universal tools for the integration and output of information from more than one source and more than one software or hardware platform
- Pull-down menus and sort/filter functions
- Seamless interfaces with the document storage platform and other tool sets
- Flexible note and remark capability
- Enhanced task processing with workflow
- System data integrity and security
ATS II will support the Assessor Department effectively and efficiently for years to come, providing technology essential to meeting annual property assessment and valuation mandates. It is anticipated that ATS II will continue to be updated and adjusted over time to accommodate changes in property tax laws, demands from the public, and department users.
County is OnBase
What is OnBase?
CEO/IT’s Enterprise OnBase document management solution allows organizations to effectively and efficiently capture, secure, share and distribute digital images and reports. To date, the County has scanned millions of pages of paper documents into OnBase. OnBase allows those documents to be stored, searched, data mined, e-mailed, and cross referenced. OnBase also supports data and process automation for document creation, review and revision. The enterprise version of OnBase is fully supported by CEO/IT (hardware, software, storage, OnBase software support) with secure backups and real time data replication provided off-site.
Who uses the solution?
The enterprise OnBase solution is currently being utilized by over 13 County Agencies/Departments and all County critical systems including CAPS+, HR Personnel files, VTI Timecard, Employee Pay Stub system, and CalWorks to name a few. In addition, CEO/IT is discussing this service offering with several more Agencies/Departments who have a need to reduce or eliminate paper-based systems.
How BIG is it?
Currently the enterprise OnBase database contains over 34 million documents. On average, over 447,000 documents are added each month.
What are the benefits?
- Reduces paper storage and retrieval costs
- Secures documents and allows for confidential and restricted access
- Meets document retention policies
- Provides real-time access to data and documents from multiple locations
- Increases employee productivity by providing quick and easy access to information 24x7x365
- Allows for smart searches on data fields
- Eliminates frustration and costs associated with manual record retention
- Verifies record completeness and provides proof of destruction
The enterprise OnBase solution provides a cost-effective solution for Agencies/Departments to manage documents online and store data securely, while also allowing them a method to quickly and easily search and retrieve information any time, any day.
OC Public Works iPhone Apps
Residents of Unincorporated Orange County have a new way to report repairs directly to the OC Public Works Department. OC Public Works is one of the first Orange County departments to launch an iPhone application to assist smartphone users in contacting County government.
This new service, developed in house by OC Public Works, allows users to search “OC Works” on iPhones and iPads and download this free application. After downloading this application, residents can easily request pothole repairs, graffiti removal, street sweeping, report incidents of alleged illegal dumping, water pollution, and/or property violations directly to County staff. The application will ask residents to confirm the location of repair or service need by GPS which will assist County staff in locating the specific area and providing more immediate service. Photos of the issue can also be uploaded to assist in an expedited response.
“The OC Works iPhone app provides another way for residents to access County government. We look forward to identifying other apps that will allow us to continue to provide the highest level of service to our residents,” commented Bob Berg, OC Public Works IT Manager.