County records forms online

Arizona's Maricopa County, the nation's fourth largest county, has begun a program that eventually will enable up to 20 percent of the document processing of its Recorder's Office to be done completely online.

The office (recorder.maricopa.gov) receives 5,000 to 8,000 documents a day pertaining to matters such as property and elections. Some are handled by an electronic recording system that enables customers to send documents to the office after scanning a paper document. But workers in the Recorder's Office must still take details from the scanned image and manually enter them into the system.

By contrast, the new system uses online forms that customers fill in on their computer screen. Once transmitted, the information transfers directly into the office's database without any human intervention.

"The reason that it's only 20 percent of the workload is that only certain documents that require a digital signature can be accepted this way," said Barbara Frerichs, a project manager in the Recorder's Office. "But companies have to spend $125 or up for a public key to do this, and John Q. Public is not going to do that to send just an average of four documents a year."

The price of the encryption key will decrease over time, she said, and that may encourage more people to send documents online. In the meantime, most people will continue to send documents the old way, or they could go to a Recorder's Office location, fill in the online form and then sign on an electronic keypad at the office.

Nevertheless, Frerichs said, if the 20 percent figure is reached, it would produce big savings in time and personnel resources, and that would mean employees could be assigned to tasks more productive than re-keying data.

Utah-based Ingeo Systems Inc. provides Maricopa's e-recording system. The county includes the cities of Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa and Tempe.

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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