the state mandates to remove Social Security numbers from government records is Computing System Innovations (CSI) of Orlando, Fla. The company developed a product called IntelliDact, which provides automated redaction and indexing for both official records and court documents.

CSI's pricing is based on the number of scanned images to be processed and the estimated number of new documents that will be scanned each year going forward.

"We have finished several counties in Florida and are now marketing the product throughout the United States," said CSI President Henry Sal. "This is a large and growing market."

Under Florida's current public records law, citizens must request that private information be deleted or redacted from public documents. But in 2007, the responsibility will shift to the offices of the court clerk. In preparation for that change, Florida's Marion County recently completed its redaction project using IntelliDact to process and delete private information from 7 million pages of official records -- a process that CSI said took less than seven weeks.

Over the past few years, Allen County invested in scanning technology to create digital versions of thousands of paper records; digitization will help speed the removal process.

However, Ed Steenman, information technology services coordinator of Allen County, said the redaction process will be a significant challenge for the county.

"This is a big-ticket item for us to comply," he said.

"It's not just a matter of masking a field in a database; it's a matter of redacting digital images. It's no small task." Steenman said there are several software options on the market that address redaction, and the county will do an RFP. "We'll have to see which one gives us the most bang for the buck," he added.

With more than 9.2 million documents dating back to 1996, Crick estimates the redaction will cost the county about $180,000, but she admitted that was just a guess. For the period before 1996, the records are on microfilm, and the county is not going to attempt to address those documents.

The governor's office has chosen four other Indiana counties to research software vendors and their solutions.

Later this year, those counties will share their findings with all 92 counties in the state. Despite the disparity in technological sophistication among large and small counties, Crick said all the recorders statewide will eventually get on board.

"They need to do this, and they will do it. It's a step forward as far as identity theft protection goes. Eventually we'll have 92 counties doing the same thing."

David Raths  |  contributing writer