Saish Gadamsetty has been building systems for county clerks and recorders for nearly two decades. Here he discusses the changing nature of these professional roles, how today’s technology supports the shift, and how this leads to improved citizen engagement.
How has the profession changed for clerks and recorders?
There is a much greater volume of records that must be processed and maintained by clerks and recorders. Vital records and property deeds are mainstays, but depending on the jurisdiction there can be passport applications, business licenses and minutes of official meetings. Many records need to be certified so they have the same legal effect of an original document, which also adds to the pressure in counties that are often underfunded and understaffed.
How can technology provide a solution?
Much of a clerk’s time is spent searching for, printing, certifying and mailing documents. It takes a lot of time, and it costs a lot in terms of salary, paper and postage. Technology can simplify the process and lower the cost starting with self-service document discovery.
When developing Avenu’s SuperSearch tool, a critical parameter was simplicity. I didn’t want users to have anxiety about learning a new technology, so it integrates with any records management system that a government uses. I also wanted it to work like any web-based search engine they are familiar with, applying filters to find documents by property address, notary’s name, grantor/grantee name and other indexed criteria.
The ease-of-use attribute is part of the whole experience with searches using text or image. Documents can be added to the shopping cart, paid for with PayPal, and certified digitally by the clerk or recorder. In a repository of 14.5 million documents, the discovery-to-delivery time is just over eight minutes – and county recorders and clerks don’t have to be involved unless there is a case that is escalated.
What are the outcomes that county leadership wants to see?
First, leaders want to know that the office of the recorder or clerk is meeting their constituents needs. If citizens get the great experience they expect, whether it’s face to face or from technology, then the recorders are delivering a key outcome.
Second, cost control is always an issue. If recorders can prove they have reduced expenses while maintaining or increasing services, leaders are satisfied. Coupled with that is whether the office has added value in some way, such as having property fraud alerts in place for when documents don’t have the correct information. Then the leadership will have the outcomes they can promote.