SUSAN MORGAN

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April 3, 2013
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Guest column: Technology offers info, reduces personnel costs

At all levels of government, whether federal, state, county, or city jurisdictions, the use of computers and the Internet has changed the way things work. Especially in county government in southwest Oregon, as counties have been grappling with the loss of federal funding, e-government (electronic-government) has provided some tremendous economies.

As you know, the greatest cost of any government is paying people to provide services. One of the best opportunities we have to reduce cost is to use technology rather than people, whenever practical, to provide those services.

A great example is in the Douglas County Assessor’s Office. Before the e-government days, citizens wishing to access information related to tax assessment had to come to the courthouse and ask county employees. In today’s environment, a great deal of information is available online, through an Internet connection. Citizens can log on to the Assessor’s Department through Douglas County Government’s website at www.co.douglas.or.us, then click on Assessment Information on the left side to access a wealth of information that saves both a trip to the courthouse and county employee budgets. Counter staff has been dramatically reduced, and the remaining counter staff is freed up to deal with citizens who have special issues or cannot access the Internet. As always, please call ahead for an appointment so staff can be ready to work with you.

Douglas County has a very active and effective Information Technology Department, administered by Kevin Potter. Mr. Potter oversees a staff that works with county departments and information users to identify or develop programming and hardware that makes systems work better. The staff also troubleshoots tech problems, and trains users to use the systems most efficiently.

Working with the software vendors, county public safety departments, and police, fire and ambulance districts across the county, the IT department is in the final stages of implanting a comprehensive new software system for public safety. You may be interested in the new jail inmate software at jailviewer.co.douglas.or.us. The site now gives citizens the ability to see a more complete history of bookings for individuals that have enjoyed the county’s hospitality. (Note: Microsoft Silverlight must be installed to view the site, which works on Safari and Internet Explorer browsers. The site cannot be viewed with Firefox.)

We have also added an online function to publicize vacancies on our many boards and commissions, complete with an e-application for citizens wishing to apply. Go to www.co.douglas.or.us and look on the banner running down the right side of the screen for opportunities and applications.

Douglas County Commissioner Susan Morgan welcomes your questions or comments. She can be contacted by email at morgan@co.douglas.or.us; by mail at Douglas County Courthouse, Room 217, 1036 S.E. Douglas Ave., Roseburg, OR 97470; or by phone at 541-440-4201.


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The News-Review Updated Apr 3, 2013 11:12AM Published Apr 3, 2013 04:40PM Copyright 2013 The News-Review. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.