Government Technology

Getting IT's Money’s Worth in Newport Beach, Calif.

Newport Beach, Calif.'s new city hall has the latest in hi-tech digital management technology and energy efficiency. These LEED gold standard window shades let in the light while keeping out the suns warming rays.
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June 13, 2013 By Chris Wacker, executive vice president, Laserfiche

In Newport Beach, Calif. -- just 45 miles south of Los Angeles -- IT Manager Rob Houston has his work cut out for him: He's been tasked with tying two dozen city departments and offices and 28 different software systems into one IT infrastructure, all while the government moves into a brand new civic center.

“You have to be creative and cautious in a project like this,” Houston says. “You can’t just concentrate on getting all these systems to work well together -- they need to keep working well together. And in this rapidly changing technology environment, that’s the real challenge: ability and agility.”

A multi-million-dollar IT budget goes a long way toward meeting those goals, as does having knowledgeable people spending that money. Newport Beach has leveraged both over the past few years to build a virtual Newport Beach government inside a very real, state-of-the-art City Hall.

Newport Beach's Citizen Task Force

It all started in 2010, when Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry -- who understands and appreciates the power of database technology in government applications -- and the City Council launched a citizen’s task force to examine all city services and departments, and assess the technology available to them.

That task force started by assessing the records repository software. The previous system, purchased in 1998 for $645,000, was little more than a digital filing cabinet, said Houston. And the city wanted something more than an electronic filing cabinet that plays well with other software systems.

The records repository must support electronic workflows that facilitate the routing of documents involving multiple officials and departments. It needed a Web portal with adequate security measures to allow public and private access to different files in the repository. It also needed to monitor records retention schedules and provide auditing to track who opens which restricted records and when. Moreover, City Manager David Kiff has made paperless a priority for the new city hall, Houston said, and a records repository with such features can save hundreds of dollars a year on paper purchases, not to mention the labor saved not working with that paper. 


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