applications that will grow horizontally across departments. The county recently launched pilot projects in the Department of Environmental Resources, the Employee Relations Department and the Buildings Department using Identitechs FYI software for imaging, document management, electronic forms and workflow. The goal, said Randy Witt, the countys CIO, is to take steps that reduce the countys 60-year legacy of paper documents.

Beyond that, the county wants to grow enterprise applications, and that calls for systems with the kind of infrastructure that can support large county departments and include remote access. Because each department has its own business process, the plan is to pick products best suited for its purposes and then standardize within the department.

"It makes sense to have a standard imaging architecture within affinity groups in government," said Menta, who classified the key groups in local government as health and human services, law and justice, land parcels and general administration. "Many CIOs city managers and county managers would prefer to have one standard for imaging throughout the jurisdiction for a number of reasons, including ease of cross-training," he added. But in reality, theres little reason for these groups to exchange information between each other, argued Menta, so its not worth the time and expense of adopting one standard.

One reason affinity-group imaging works is that vendors have done a decent job developing solutions that address particular needs, such as applications for processing land parcels, court documents, police records or tax collection. These special systems often do a stellar job at processing documents and content within the specialized area, but would be a mediocre or poor fit in unrelated areas of government. Trying to force one standard on these different departments, with different processes, wont work.

Scanning the Web

In addition to tackling enterprise imaging, state and local governments are beginning to use the Internet to expand imaging into a number of areas, most notably public access. Check out any number of Web sites for county recorders of deeds and you will be able to pull up scanned land and title documents. Residents of Martinsville, Va., can view the documents of city council agendas, codes and meeting minutes using their Web browsers. The images are available through WebLink, a scan-to-Web software from Laserfiche. In Miami-Dade, CIO Witt said the public will have access to certain documents via the Web once the countys imaging system is fully operational.

The Internet can also serve as the infrastructure for improving internal accessibility to documents. Thats the case at North Carolinas Department of State Treasurer (DST), which serves as the states banker. Each year, DST processes 23 million checks -- known as warrants -- and distributes them to the 700 state agencies that hold accounts with DST.

Once the system operated primarily on paper and microfilm. The warrants were processed through the Federal Reserve Bank in Charlotte and turned over to DST for microfilming. As many as 230,000 warrants would be processed on a given day, and obtaining a copy of a warrant was a labor-intensive operation.

Today, however, DST doesnt receive a single warrant. Working with the Federal Reserve Bank and Unisys Corp., DST crafted a system where warrants are scanned at the Fed, the images are stored on tape cartridges and turned over to DST the next day. The images are loaded and maintained on the agencys imaging system for storage and retrieval. State agency staff who want to see an image of a warrant can access the images with their Web browsers using an ID and password.

The $1.2 million imaging system has affected DST and state agencies in a number of ways, according to Robert Newton, DSTs IT director. "We have been able to reduce costs by eliminating certain positions and have greatly simplified the life of workers who no longer have to manually

Tod Newcombe  |  Features Editor