County earns international award

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Shelby County has won a prestigious award for the way it uses technology to make government more efficient.

The county was selected as a Distinguished System for the 2006 Exemplary Systems in Government (ESIG) Award, given annually by the Urban and Regional Systems Association (URSA).

The award is given to organizations that improve the delivery and quality of government services through the use of information technology.

In an application video, Shelby County officials say how 20 percent annual growth forced the county to look to technology to meet the needs of its citizens.

&8220;With this information solutions and information technology, there you have a critical component of us being able to meet the demands that we experience daily,&8221; Alex Dudchock, county manager. &8220;Our operating environments and responsibilities are diverse and range from public safety and traditional law enforcement to water services and environment emergency management to revenue collection.&8221;

County Probate Judge Patricia Fuhrmeister says that new technology enabled the county to intertwine the business processes of many departments throughout the county.

&8220;It was important to me that the technology chose allowed for the sharing of information with the public, online and with other county departments,&8221; said Fuhrmeister.

A technology upgrade contributed much to the efficiency of inter-office interactions.

&8220;The mainframe environment, although it had a lot of horsepower, didn&8217;t allow us to weave our data sets together,&8221; said Chuck Owen, IT services and systems network analyst. &8220;It&8217;s nice how we have been able to blend our data sets.&8221;

County Tax Commissioner Don Armstrong says the system eliminates redundancies and simplifies many processes.

&8220;Streamlining our processes for appraisals and collections with the new technology helps our people to work smarter,&8221; said Armstrong.

Shelby County is the first government in Alabama to receive the international award, which will be officially given during an awards ceremony for ESIG award winners on Thursday, Sept. 28 at a conference in Vancouver, British Columbia.