September 17, 2008 By Andy Opsahl
Arapahoe County, Colo., reversed plans to hire two additional administrative staffers when the county's Judicial Services Online Check-In Web tool eliminated the need for them last May, said Marsha Adams, senior business analyst of Arapahoe County. The Web tool lets suspects -- who wear GPS-monitored ankle bracelets and are awaiting trial -- do their weekly check-ins with pretrial services online.
Before the online check-in tool, defendants pending trial checked-in with pretrial services one to three times per week via telephone to report changes in employment, address or name, and any new contact with police they may have had. The department's front desk administrator fielded almost 200 weekly calls and entered the information into a system for suspects' pretrial supervision officers to access, in addition to her normal workload.
Call volume increased as the county placed more suspects under pretrial supervision to ease jail crowding. Judicial Services planned to hire an extra person to handle the calls and another within the following two years. Those two employees would have cost the county roughly $35,000 each annually, said Rita Pollock, director of IT for Arapahoe County. When the online check-in tool proved it could collect the information that Judicial Services collected over the phone, the department rescinded its request for more staff. The new system automatically e-mails a pretrial supervision officer whenever one of his or her defendants checks in online.
"The goal is to get all of our pretrial supervision offenders, at least 25 percent of them, on this process," Adams said. "We're not there yet. It's just a matter of getting everyone used to it."
County representatives accepted an award for the project at the Center for Digital Government's Best of the Web awards ceremony in Hollywood, Calif., on Friday, Sept. 12.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.