Automation erases paper-based system
As the second-largest city in Massachusetts, Worcester has always had a lot of paperwork to contend with, particularly in the city clerk’s office. Charged with managing marriage and dog licenses, among other tasks, the clerk’s office desperately needed a way to reduce the volume of paper files and to improve recordkeeping. To solve the problem, the city’s IT department is using automated programs.
Developed in-house, the Marriage Data Management System has been used in the city since 1996. When a couple applies for a marriage license, the data is entered into the system and retained in a certified format so that certified copies can be printed at any time. It takes only 14 seconds for a staff member to locate the record and print a certified copy, says City Clerk David Rushford. “The data is more reliable than before because it is not typed in each time a copy is needed,” he says. “But the best benefit is the time saved in city offices.”
The Dog License Data Management System, which was developed in 1998, works similarly, although those licenses have to be renewed annually. When a dog owner applies for a license for the first time, he must visit the city office. After the owner presents a rabies certificate and pays the license fee, the staff member types the information into the system and prints a copy for the owner. Each year following, the owner is notified automatically by mail that the license is due for renewal.
Because the systems proved to be successful and easy to use, Worcester began selling the software to neighboring cities. Many smaller cities in Massachusetts do not have IT departments but are still in need of automated tools, says Worcester IT Director Paul Covello. “We want to be good neighbors,” he says.
Since 1998, the city has sold more than 100 software packages to neighboring communities. Each sells for about $250.
“This was a great opportunity for us to share the technology,” Rushford says. “It’s created a camaraderie between the localities and opened up avenues of communication.”
Since Worcester developed the marriage and dog license systems, it has developed a similar system for death records and has implemented a state-sponsored birth records management system. The city now is developing automated systems for contract and business license management.