Lewis County, N.Y., Civil Services Calls for New Records System

The county’s current system relies on physical employment history cards, typed on an IBM typewriter. Human Services Director Christopher Boulio is calling for a cloud-based, digital system.

by Julie Abbass, Watertown Daily Times / March 22, 2019
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(TNS) — When it was his turn to speak at the Finance and Rules legislative committee meeting Tuesday night, Lewis County Human Services Director Christopher Boulio walked out the door.

He came back in pushing an industrial metal cart full of folders, papers and a long drawer with scores of cards the size of half a sheet of copy paper.

“I’m going to ask you to help me get out of the Stone Age with my record keeping,” Mr. Boulio said, “I want to eliminate the chisels and the stone tablets that are being utilized by my staff.”

Mr. Boulio explained that the “chisels and tablets,” like those on the cart, could easily be replaced with a computer program, Discover eGOV, that would allow him and his staff to turn the stacks and piles of paper generated by the Civil Service into a cloud-based electronic system.

Anticipating resistance, Mr. Boulio explained that changes, from address updates, to salary increases or job title changes, for every civil service employee in the county, and how his team then types the information onto the white cards, known as employment history cards. The cards themselves are no longer made.

“My staff puts a card in an IBM typewriter — I’m not even sure we can still get ribbons for it — and types in the information,” Mr. Boulio said.

County Manager Ryan Piche said that when mass changes happen, for example, when union pay increases go into effect, Mr. Boulio’s team has to process 200 pink forms manually.

With a digitized system, no more pink forms, cards, typewriters or even postage to mail information to job applicants and civil employees, Mr. Boulio explained. Once the system is in place, all information will be sent by email instead of “snail-mail.”

The eGOV program, already used by 30 counties, connects directly with the state civil service system. Additionally, each department will be able to put information directly into the system instead of on pink forms.

Discover eGOV is compatible with the county’s payroll system, Munis by Tyler Technologies, assuaging concerns by District 4 Legislator and Committee Chairman Bryan Moser about the communication between the two systems.

Some towns and villages that do not have reliable internet will need to stay on the paper trail for now, like Osceola, Montague, Lewis and Lyonsdale, but any municipal government with internet access will also be able to participate in the system by using a portal.

eGOV costs $29,000, payable in three installments, Mr. Boulio said. He said he wasn’t asking the legislators for money to be found to buy this system, but rather to approve a resolution allowing him to use the money he budgeted for such a program after cutting his staff by a “half-person” last year.

In answer to legislator questions about how long it would take to get the system up and running and what would happen to the information that is already in paper form, Mr. Boulio said a changeover would take 30 days. Information in the Munis system would be “dumped” into eGOV to get it up to speed and cards and pink forms would be scanned by him and his department.

“I’ve been meaning since I got here to get rid of the stone tablets,” Mr. Boulio said, “I wanted a good visual.”

The board unanimously agreed to move the resolution forward at the regular Board of Legislators meeting on April 2.

©2019 Watertown Daily Times (Watertown, N.Y.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.