County sets e-filing foundation

California's Riverside County put itself at the front of the pack when it

recently began electronically recording and filing tax liens.

It's the precursor to a likely push to similarly enable a range of document

types in the county, as well as the lead example for a possible expansion

of electronic recording throughout the state.

"We've always wanted to do electronic documentation, but first we had

to lay the foundation," said Vince Haley, the county's information technology

manager. "We have a relatively new system that was installed in July of

1999 that took us straight from microfiche and film to online indexing of

records. And now [that] we have a good handle on how that works, we thought

it would be a good time to go to electronic recording itself."

However, under California law, not many documents can yet be recorded

electronically. "The floodgates are expected to open soon," Haley said,

because of legislation moving through the California State Assembly, but

so far tax liens are among the few types of documents that can be handled

this way.

The electronic filing of liens has proven to be a good example of what

is possible. After the system went live, 6,923 paperless liens were filed

from Oct. 11 to Oct. 30. The county's property system usually generates

a much smaller numbers of liens monthly, although there are heavy filing

periods during October and May.

In the past, cases of paper documents were sent from the treasurer's

office to the recorder's office, with a lot of duplication of effort and

data entry. The new system, which uses Ingeo Systems Inc.'s ePrepare electronic

recording system, required an average of 44 seconds to record and process

each document.

The county is interested in seeing if it can extend the system to work

with other county and state organizations. Because liens are filed among

these organizations all of the time, having the ability to electronically

record and file liens outside of Riverside County would be particularly

valuable, Haley said.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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