NASIRE honors state systems

Working under heavy caseloads, a mountain of paper and with an antiquated mainframe, New Jersey's Division of Workers' Compensation last year implemented a new computer system to improve efficiency, save money and eventually become the nation's first fully automated litigation system.

New Jersey's COURTS — or Case, Organization, Utilization, Reporting and Tracking System — was one of nine best practices recognized at the National Association of State Information and Resource Executives' annual conference in Baltimore on Tuesday. COURTS won in the Information Architecture category.

Last year, about 100,000 workers' compensation cases were litigated in the state, which has only 50 judges for the division. Paul Kapalko, director and chief judge of New Jersey's Worker's Compensation Division, said the new system links judges and clerical staff to the same database, produces electronic hearing notices, provides online research and interfaces with other government agencies.

Kapalko said 65 percent of all paper notices sent out to lawyers have been eliminated, and postage costs have been reduced from $300,000 to $150,000 in one year. This week, attorneys will gain access to the system, and next year the system will accept electronically filed claims, petitions and respondents' answers.

Other NASIRE categories, and their corresponding winning best practices, include:

    * Accessibility: Texas mandated and implemented information technology systems and state Web sites so that all state employees and members of the public with disabilities can have access.

    * Communications Infrastructure: Virginia created a model to introduce high-speed statewide networks into the public and private sectors.

    * Digital Government: Idaho created a Web-based automated travel reimbursement application.

    * Innovative Use of Technology: North Carolina's Department of Commerce created a database of sites and buildings available within the state. The information is more accurate and more frequently updated and is available around the clock.

    * IT Recruitment and Retention: Missouri created an IT coalition of government, private industry and higher education to focus on reversing the shortage of IT professionals.

    * Public/Private Partnership: The Railroad Commission of Texas, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and oil and gas industry, is implementing a completely paperless system to streamline regulatory demands and administrative costs.

    * Service Applications: The Kansas Department of Revenue has implemented a project to enable residents to have multiple channels to file and pay taxes.

    * State Planning and Management: Kansas created a training and certification process for IT project managers in a 120-hour in-class instruction program to address the occurrence of failed IT system projects.

Summaries of all nominations are available at www.nasire.org/awards.

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