Like many counties, much of the constituent paperwork is exactly that— paperwork. In the Dauphin County Prothonotary’s Office, the paperwork related to civil cases can be staggering.
Documents filed by various departments throughout the county’s court system, as well as records filed by residents engaged in civil court, were either physically on file in the Prothonotary’s office or held in storage. There was no easy way to pull records when any number of departments, from the Sheriff and District Attorney, to the judges or court administrators, needed to view them.
It was even more difficult for the public to access information, and the Prothonotary’s staff was spending countless hours each week providing necessary assistance to fulfill the many requests received. Because of the growing volume of records processed, the ultimate goal of the Prothonotary was to get as many of the older records microfilmed as possible and to record and scan the newer records as they were received.
“Before implementation of the software, we spent 40 hours a week searching for documents. With our system in place, we’ve reduced the search time to an hour or less.”
The Prothonotary needed a document management system that would allow employees to capture the information and store it in an easy-to-access document pool that would permit users from other departments, as well as the general public, to access the information conveniently and without causing the Prothonotary Office staff additional time training and assisting people with document requests.
The two systems interface to provide maximum efficiency for the end user. The interface allows users from key court-related departments (Judges and judicial staffs, Sheriff, Court Administration, Work Release Center, etc.) who have proper authorization to view the necessary records directly from their own terminals. In addition, members of the general public can access the system from a terminal located in the Prothonotary’s Office.
As the case load in the Prothonotary’s Office increases, the staff reports almost no downtime for the software. The county’s IT department is pleased with the almost seamless transition of the process and the ongoing ease of use.
The biggest savings to the Prothonotary’s Office is the time spent looking for records. With the availability of records to authorized offices on their own terminals, the staff no longer has to spend time greeting people, physically looking up records, copying them, and delivering them to the person or department requesting.
Likewise, the general public can find all of the information they need on the computer with little or no assistance from the staff. Prothonotary staff members can now focus their efforts on doing their jobs instead of being records investigators. The increased efficiency and consistency has made daily tasks easier, especially during times of peak volume. The ease of access has greatly improved productivity and overall job satisfaction.
“We are doing more work with fewer employees,” said Prothonotary, Stephen Farina. “Clearly, for any governmental office or agency to declare that kind of efficiency is indeed a public service.”
The implementation of the ECM system in the Prothonotary’s Office and subsequent interface with the County’s case management software has helped the county create a database of knowledge that has streamlined an important facet of the court system. The immediate capturing of civil court documents ensures that the public has easy, efficient access to the records. In addition, users in a variety of court-related departments are empowered to use the system to further ensure maximum productivity and better overall service to the residents of Dauphin County.
Located in central Pennsylvania, Dauphin County is home to the state capital
of Harrisburg. Covering 525 square miles, the county has a growing population of more than 250,000. With this growth comes the necessity for additional county services, creating challenges for county officials to provide cost-effective programs for residents and efficient, user-friendly systems for employees. The Dauphin County Prothonotary’s Office files all legal papers related to the civil court. These documents may include arbitration hearings, argument court and civil trials, building agreements, change of names, issue of divorce certificates, and landlord/tenant disputes.