Pinellas County, Fla., is severing ties with its 35-year-old IT legacy court case management system with plans to implement a new system sometime next year.

The internally built single-database legacy application is used to do all court-related transactions, processes and records management within the county’s entire judicial system. The aging system requires continued maintenance, which often includes HTML code changes, said Suzie Jennings, the county’s justice court case management system project sponsor.

And although the information is on one database, the seven major court types — probate, mental health, civil, family, adult criminal, juvenile delinquency and traffic — are siloed and currently require users to log in to each court type separately, she said.

“Because of the way our system is set up, it’s not a consolidated system; it sits on one database but the court types are siloed,” Jennings said. “So you may be changing [HTML] code in one siloed court type because it’s required, but it impacts the rest of the other siloed court types. It becomes kind of a snowball effect or a spinning wheel.”

Since every year the county must follow new mandates — e-filing and digital signatures for judges, for example — continuing to accommodate these new capabilities would require even more custom development to the legacy system, Jennings said. As a result, the county decided it was smarter to procure a new system, which officials hope will streamline processes and eliminate silos.

In January, Pinellas County officially started to pilot the project with its new software — Odyssey designed by Dallas-based Tyler Technologies. The $6.8 million project is currently in its infancy, but the county is tentatively scheduled to implement the system sometime in 2012, Jennings said.

Pasco County, Fla., uses Pinellas County’s mainframe for its court case management system and was also ready to abandon the outdated system, said Pasco County Clerk and Comptroller Paula S. O’Neil. The county contracted with Florida-based maintenance system vendor Clericus in 2009 and is scheduled to roll out its court case data on the software, beginning a phased rollout in January 2012.

“It was time to replace the system,” O’Neil said. “We have a lot of demand from the state and it’s hard to change reports in an instant when the Supreme Court needs a change and when the Office of the State Courts Administrator needs a change.”

Pinellas County’s new streamlined system will include a single sign-on that allows users to access multiple court types, Jennings said. A user can only access the court types the county has permitted for that user. The single sign-on functionality allows users to log into one court type without having to log out and re-log in to access another court type.

Pinellas County is one more example of how local governments are switching to single sign-on functionality so end-users can access a range of information. Earlier this month, Seattle launched a single sign-on function on its Seattle.gov website. The feature allows users to access nearly 50 services that usually require individual registrations.

Sarah Rich, Staff Writer Sarah Rich  |  Staff Writer

In 2008, Sarah Rich graduated from California State University, Chico, where she majored in news-editorial journalism and minored in sociology. Since 2010, Sarah has written for Government Technology magazine and covers a spectrum of public-sector IT topics, including cloud computing, transparency, broadband, and other innovative projects and trends. She currently lives in Sacramento, Calif.