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Debbie Conway

Recorder, Clark County, Nev.

When Debbie Conway became Clark County recorder in 2007, she stepped into a troubled office. Morale was low, equipment antiquated, and customers waited as long as three hours to record a document and another six months to get the document back. It took all day to open the mail with old-fashioned letter openers. A three-year backlog in property fee assessments meant millions in lost income.

Conway, who had private-sector experience bringing multimillion dollar projects in on time and under budget, sat down with IT and department managers and went to work outlining about 40 things needing quick implementation to get the office back on track. “I looked at it like one big project and broke it into phases,” she said.

First came new computers, faster scanners and an upgraded recordation system. Next Conway streamlined processes. Boxes of title company documents were entered into an electronic system by an outside company, allowing staff members to access documents on computer screens to review and record. Conway also instituted a system to reduce waiting time and linked it to the Assessor’s Office.

The changes Conway made serve her customers well, even during the economic downturn — which didn’t reduce workload, since the recorder handles foreclosures and as many as 1,000 liens a day for default of such things as sewage fees or child support.

Now the backlogs are gone, wait times are a few minutes, and those letter openers? Tossed out; an automated opener does the job in minutes.

Miriam Jones is a former chief copy editor of Government Technology, Governing, Public CIO and Emergency Management magazines.