PAPERLESS SOLUTIONS REINVENTS CUMBERLAND COUNTY CASE MANAGEMENT, E-FILING AND TAX LIEN PROCESSING

Company: Cumberland County

Cumberland County, a Pennsylvania third-class county with a population of over 230,000 constituents, is comprised of a combination of urban and rural settings with 33 municipalities, military bases and several colleges. It boasts one of the lowest unemployment rates in Pennsylvania and enjoys its historic significance as the location where Ben Franklin negotiated a treaty with the Native Americans at Carlisle, the county seat.

Challenge: Simplify the County Court Office Processes

The Cumberland County Prothonotary team began looking at the way operations were run within their court system and knew there was a better way for their county to do business, reduce their budget and identify new revenue streams. Internal case management processes were antiquated and filled with paper files and manual paperwork. Nothing was automated. Case processing time was high and error prone due to lots of manual entry. Annual revenue to the courts was also dependent on the amount of cases filed and filing offices had limited hours. Case searches were not possible without a case number and limited to two terminals in the courthouse. Case filing times was limited to the hours of operation.

Another challenge was the tax lien process. The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue regularly accumulates the tax lien information on late payers and non-payers and then generates paper files to send to the county. Once received, the county needed to create case file folders, manually scan all the information, calculate all taxes, penalties, and interest, and reenter data into their filing system. Then they produced and sent paper bills back to the state filing party. The process was timeconsuming and cumbersome, taking many hours for clerks to manually process a day’s worth of tax liens and payments.

The Solution: Paperless Solutions’ Expertise in Creating Scalable Solutions

After extensive research on various marketplace solutions to address these challenges, the Cumberland County team selected Paperless Solutions because of their strategic ability to offer multiple, but unified solutions that would be scalable across the organization.

Phase I

The first phase was the implementation of a new civil court case management system to improve processes.

This project included replacing their antiquated AS/400- based case management system with OnBase and the Paperless Solutions’ Chamaeleon Case Management and E-Filing System. The new system was highly configurable and converted cases to electronic documents. The E-Filing module eliminated typing tasks and errors by staff. It reduced time to process cases from 15-20 minutes to 90 seconds equaling a savings of 86%.

The new system enabled judges and clerks to share electronic case jackets versus standard files. It offered standardized bookkeeping and state reporting, automated notifications and integrated workflows to route filings to various areas accordingly. The new system also provided secure, convenient, easy-to-use 24/7 web access. This accessibility virtually extended filing hours for attorneys and Pro-Se filers. It also provided access to case files on a per-page basis, generating additional revenue for the county.

Phase II

Following the streamlined processing and automation of the Case Management and E-filing processes in Phase I, the second step was to leverage the scalability of the system and expand it to the tax lien process. This new feature now offered a new bi-directional interaction with the state. Not all counties have systems that can interact in this way with the state, so this was very unique. The fact that an entirely separate system didn’t need to be integrated into to the case management system was even more appealing. The automated system now electronically generates cases and bills to the state, working seamlessly with the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue information system. It is also fully scalable for adding additional counties or features.

Dave Buell, Cumberland County Prothonotary mentions “It really was a paradigm shift in getting people to think differently.” Now, a manual, error-prone process that took 5-8 hours a week to process tax liens in Cumberland County is fully automated. Information for tax liens and bills back to the Pennsylvania Department of Revenue from the County is generated in seconds simply with the push of a button. First Deputy Erica Ernst notes, “It was a no-brainer and the amount of staff time savings was key.”

The tax lien process improvements contributed to a net increase of 204% in total cases processed for the County. This case number increase also represents a 200% increase to the County automation fund account. The state tax lien cases are up by 643%. General fund revenue from the increased filings is up 624%. “Most commissioners have a hard time believing it’s true but are happy nonetheless,” says Mr. Buell.

Most importantly, Cumberland County has managed to more than double the case processing without adding personnel, staff hours, overtime or any other expenses beyond the initial investment. “It was well worth it and paid for itself within the first 6 months,” says Mr. Buell.

Constituents also benefit because they don’t need to visit county offices to pay county filing fees for liens paid to the state, as they did prior to the new system implementation. The new system incorporates the lien satisfaction at the county level as well when they pay the state. It is fully automated and addressed at the state/county level integration. The solution was also implemented in Bucks and Montgomery counties to enable the same types of savings and process improvement.

The Return On Investment

  • Time and resource savings: What took hours to accomplish by county clerks is automated and occurs in seconds, and clerks can now focus on other things. Constituents save time in visiting county offices to pay additional fees for satisfactions of those same liens.
  • Improves compliance: Fewer errors occur with entries because there is less manual work involved and information is automated.
  • Increased revenue stream: A substantial 624% increase in county revenue is achieved as a result of the streamlined case management, e-filing and tax lien processing.

Future Plans

The system has been so successful that Cumberland County is continuing to work with Paperless Solutions on other process improvements to the County Court System, including improvements to the Unemployment Compensation Tax Lien process

Additional Features Included:

  • Fields and screens to capture data previously entered manually, reducing the system user “touch” points while processing each document.
  • New standardized forms to enable the clerk to easily take calls and capture relevant data. Clerks no longer needed to be familiar with or access various disparate systems such as the Mainframe and Debtor LookUp to accomplish their work.
  • Data validation to the workflow process to reduce errors and ensure each step was completed by the clerks.

About Paperless Solutions

Trusted experts in enterprise content management since 1999, Paperless Solutions specializes in industries with complex processes and stringent compliance requirements. State and local government, prothonotaries, manufacturers, laboratories and collections agencies rely on us to simplify their processes, decrease costs and keep their business compliant. By combining innovation with an intelligent business sense we bring about dramatic improvements in every client’s efficiency and bottom line. We skillfully combine best-in-breed off-the-shelf ECM solutions from Hyland OnBase and FileBound with our own software to deliver the right workflows from finance to human resources, court case management, e-Filing, sample test reporting and collections correspondence. Recognized for our outstanding customer service, Paperless Solutions is a repeat winner of the Hyland OnBase Diamond Award.

“What’s great about working with Paperless Solutions is they come up with great ideas, are extremely knowledgeable about OnBase and the development of other software to address key areas. As a result, everyone in the government network can benefit. Paperless Solutions isn’t just a vendor, they have partner status here. They always were able to see the big picture yet get into the details of the process to effectively solve our problem.”

Dave Buell, Prothonotary,
Cumberland County

County of Cumberland logo

Software provided by Paperless Solutions Inc.

  • Chamaeleon Case Management System
  • OnBase Content Management System

Applications

  • Case Management System
  • E-filing System
  • State Tax Lien Processing

Results

  • Generates a 200% improvement in total county tax lien cases processed.
  • Provides secure, convenient 24/7 web access to cases.
  • Automates 99% of the manual processing of tax liens so that county clerks can focus on other areas needing to be addressed within the county court system.
  • Eliminates errors in processing and calculating tax liens.
  • Creates a 643% improvement in the number of tax lien cases processed annually.
  • Processes tax liens more quickly, efficiently and accurately.

Benefits

  • Removes volumes of paper and data entry from filing processes speeding up case management filing times and maximizing efficiency.
  • Improves customer service with 24/7 access.
  • Enables judges and clerks to more easily share files.
  • Streamlines interaction with the state in processing tax liens with bi-directional communication.
  • Improves compliance by providing accurate information.
  • Saves county staff time and resources without adding expenses other than initial investment.
  • Delivers scalable system that is expandable to other counties and areas within the court system.
  • Generates additional revenue for the state and county.