Jory Wolf and Santa Monica's IT department are implementing a new document management system that will keep track of all documents, dating back to the early 1900s. The system will make many records available online while purging unneeded ones.

The city, which had been using its FileNet system for a decade, opted for an entirely new hardware/software system combination that consists of a Laserfiche imaging and content management system and an HP Reference Information Storage System (RISS).

Why did you choose the current setup over the previous one?

We were having difficulty finding a licensing program through FileNet that would work for the numbers of the public who would need access to this. In our police department, we wanted to have a log of who accessed our records in our police records division, and a number of other features that were not available in FileNet. Laserfiche provided a thin client, which was easy for the public to use and cost-effective to implement.

What will this new document management system do for the city?

We have been involved in a lot of litigation lately, and have spent hours upon hours bringing back data e-mails, especially under subpoena, and for our defense attorneys to deal with defense of the city under several large litigation matters.

We wanted something that would automate that process, both the destruction process and the retrieval process. And we wanted something that would establish a policy that we would be able to adhere to -- like a compliance policy -- but it would be our own internal compliance policy.

We also are in the process of building out a document archive going back to the early 1900s. Those documents have been kept in our basement and are very difficult to retrieve, to manage their location, and also to guarantee the quality of them through time. So we have a very large backload of document conversions to be done.

How will the conversion work?

We have very large document archives. We have police records going back to the 1980s. We have both images and scanned content on hard drives. We've got building permits going back to the 1920s, city clerk's contracts, ordinances and resolutions going back to the 1970s, and we're now in the process of doing the backlog scanning conversion for all the building drawings.

We have drawings of sewers and the like, and we're going to bring all of that out of FileNet. Laserfiche has prepared a nice utility to port it from FileNet and load it directly into Laserfiche in a one-step process.

Once we finish that, we are going to move into other departments like our attorney's office, city manager's office, and into [our] engineering and fire departments for a total enterprise archive. We expect that archive will live on the RISS indefinitely.

Why did you ban instant messaging?

It's common in the private sector, and I think it's becoming common in the public sector. We don't want our documents going out to the wrong hands. We think we have controlled our e-mail systems both from what's coming in but also what's leaving the organization.

We've had some large-profile cases. We actually ended up having to hire outside firms that specialize in acquiring e-mails, cataloging e-mails and prepping them for further investigation, and for preparation of court materials. That expense was fairly high, and we anticipate having to do that in the future. The system that we're buying will automate that, and save us a considerable amount of money in future litigations.

Jim McKay, Justice and Public Safety Editor  |  Justice and Public Safety Editor