Tarrant County was the only county in Texas and one of 27 nationwide to be recognized by the National Association of Counties (NACo) July 15 during its 11th Annual Achievement Award Ceremony in Richmond, Va.
Tarrant won four awards. The Information Technology Department received two. One was for developing a program that allows the public to view all the back-up material for Commissioners Court Agenda items. The other was for a digital document storage system that streamlined the storage of the more than 10 million official documents handled by the county each year.
The criminal district judges of Tarrant County were recognized for creating an efficient and fair system for the disposition of felony cases, while the Tax Assessor-Collector's Office was recognized for developing a computerized Motor Vehicle Inventory Tracking System.
The Commissioners Court Agenda Management System not only provides the public with unprecedented access to official records, it provides the county with an electronic method for compiling the Court's weekly agenda. It also allows the County Clerk's Office to electronically tie the minutes of the meeting to each agenda.
The Electronic Document Storage Program was developed to allow the county to more efficiently store and retrieve its official documents. The limitations of the county's previous document managing system was being stressed due to the sheer number of files and an increasing number of requests from the public and private companies.
The Information Technology Department moved record management from hard copies and microfilm tapes to hard drives and computer disks. Additionally the records are now accessible to the public through the Internet. This program has become the foundation of all Tarrant County eGovernment activities.
Efficiently moving cases through the courts is a major cost factor for county government, especially as it impacts jail population. Tarrant County created the Differentiated Case Management System by combining modern case management techniques with sophisticated data processing systems. The results have been to greatly increase the flow of felony cases resulting in lowered jail population, and lowered costs. Tarrant County is the only large county in Texas to regularly dispose of more felony cases than are filed and the only one not currently experiencing jail crowding.
During a routine evaluation of her office's operations, Tax Assessor-Collector Betsy Price noted that the county's method of manually tracking the process of registering and titling automobiles by bonded automobile dealers proved cumbersome and inefficient. She formed a project team consisting of personnel from the Motor Vehicle Department and Tarrant County Information Technology. The goal was to create a cost effective and flexible inventory tracking system that would meet the needs of the Tax Office now and into the future.
The new system provides efficient workflow processes as well as advanced features including real-time status of inventory and bond values, immediate access to individual transactions, ability to block dealer accounts from any location and Web browser access. Implementation of the Motor Vehicle Inventory Tacking system in Tarrant County has provided enhanced customer service, more efficient usage of County employees' time and reduced the risk associated with managing bonded dealer work.
The NACo Achievement Award is a non-competitive program that recognizes counties for creative and innovative program development and implementation, efficient administrative management of county agencies and responsible government to local citizens. Since the program's inception, NACo has honored hundreds of county government initiatives that have generated professional well trained workforces, maintained cost effective measures, and enhanced services to diverse populations to improve the overall quality of life. In addition, the award winning programs have provided NACo and its members with an extensive database of successful model county programs.
"As the years go by it seems that it would become harder for counties to develop new and innovative programs," said Jacqueline Byers, NACo's director of research. "This year's achievement award applications prove that the opposite is true. This year, more than in the recent past, we have seen many outstanding programs that target county residents and programs that improve their lives. From programs that enhance customer service, to programs that better their quality of life and programs that target special populations, counties continue to work to provide the best."