Building Computers Saves Tompkins County, NY Millions in Construction Costs

Tompkins County, NY — April, 2012 — In 2009, after turning 193 years worth of Tompkins County land records into computer files, Deputy County Clerk Maureen Reynolds and her staff felt ready. It was time to take on “The Cave”: 9,000 boxes of aging county records sharing a former library building with a wheezing boiler and leaky roof. When they emerged two years later, it was with a rapidly-expanding General Code Laserfiche® enterprise content management system that’s saving the county millions of dollars in planned construction costs, thousands more every month in staffing costs, and offering the promise of one day expanding to service every city and town in Tompkins. Nobody ever need enter “The Cave” again.

“The county’s records program had been severely neglected for the past 10 years,” said Reynolds, “and it really needed help.”

That help came during a demonstration of Laserfiche software by General Code some three years ago. Reynolds and staff went into the demonstration looking for little more than a computer program to keep track of all those boxes in the library building, as the county decided between a multi-million-dollar renovation of the old library or construction of a new records storage building. They came out with a whole new outlook on government records management, and a whole new plan for the old library.

After the General Code demonstration, a county study showed Tompkins could get such a system for some $400,000 in scanning costs and $50,000 in software upgrades and IT infrastructure updates. Along the way the county would save between $2.3 million and $5.5 million by not building or renovating for more storage.

“When we saw what General Code could do with Laserfiche we decided to get rid of those boxes of paper and vacate the building,” Reynolds said. “Now, we’re digitizing those 9,000 boxes of records into a computer system that will work for us instead us working with boxes. The best thing about this is we’re saving money we had planned to spend on the library renovation.”

With that savings in hand, the county started looking at some additional pilot projects that would really put Laserfiche and General Code through their paces. It wasn’t long before human resources and payroll records operations and files were pulled in, followed by Supreme Court criminal files and Sheriff’s Department arrest records. On top of opening up storage spaces in those offices, all records in both departments can now be accessed remotely by staff using a Laserfiche program called WebLink. That includes the Judge.

“The Judge can sit at the bench and see the papers he needs on his laptop,” Reynolds said. “Before WebLink those files had to be pulled from an old building about a block away and hand delivered to the court.”

The plan is to have all 27 county departments using Laserfiche within the next few months and shortly thereafter public access to certain county records will be made available through the same WebLink software. Within 2 years, the county hopes to offer the 16 cities, towns and villages in Tompkins County the opportunity to put their records in what would be a countywide ‘cloud’ computing service.

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