COUNTY, CITY COOPERATE TO EXPAND ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

COUNTY, CITY COOPERATE TO EXPAND ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO PUBLIC DOCUMENTS

Doña Ana County’s Information Services Department and the City of Las Cruces have entered into a trial project to make a wide range of the city’s public documents accessible through the Internet.
Peter Cooper, county information services director, said the agreement expands on cooperative agreements in other areas between the two entities, such as the sharing of fiber-optic telephone lines and a common geographic information database.
In the current project, Cooper said, the county is helping the city clerk’s office set up a system to scan in about 100,000 pages of public documents onto a county computer system that can be searched by anyone with access to the Internet. Among the documents being entered are agendas, resolutions, ordinances and minutes of meetings.
At the end of a four-month assessment period, Cooper said, the city will have the option to contract with the county for further work on the project, both in terms of scanning in future materials and scanning in archived materials.
Eventually, Cooper said, the city clerk’s office could build an extensive database of city documents similar to the county clerk’s and assessor’s offices, both of which have a wide variety of materials stored in a database that can be accessed via the Internet.
“The object in county government,” Cooper said, “is to make as many operations as possible paperless, thereby maximizing efficiency and saving the taxpayers’ money. The city clerk also wants to minimize paper records, and we are doing everything we can to work cooperatively to help her office in that pursuit.”
City Clerk Shirley Clark agreed.
“This is an opportunity,” she said, “to use existing technology and to display city-county cooperation. This pilot project will be an advantage to the community for access to public documents at the same site.”
After two months of discussions about the scope of the project, Cooper said the decision was made to proceed on a pilot basis and then allow the city time to assess the progress and estimate the time and manpower necessary to make a permanent commitment to an archived electronic database.
Once the information is scanned in, he said, people who want to access the information can do searches based on key words, dates, descriptions or document types.