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New department head: County planning going paperless

Article Date: 
21 February, 2014 (All day)

The county’s planning and development department is going paperless in the next six months, the department’s new head told the Morgan County Council Tuesday.
“We have 50 cabinets full of plans,” said Jeremy Archibald, who is the IT director and was appointed the new planning department head at the council’s last meeting.  “I want them in the computer.”
Archibald said the county already has the necessary computer hardware and software to make the switch, but it would take employee time to collect and scan documents.
“We have the ability to do this, to go paperless.  We don’t need these huge file folders and 20 years of spreadsheets scattered all over the place,” Archibald said.  “We need a plan; a sustainable, repeatable process and awareness of workflow.  The ability to track alone can take care of 90 percent of the problem.  There is a lot of duplication.”
“We all know it hasn’t been running sweet and dandy,” Councilman Lyle Nelson said.
“I have talked to a lot of developers,” Council Chairman Logan Wilde said.  “There are problems, but even they don’t agree on how to fix it.”
Councilman Robert Kilmer said fixing the process as Archibald suggests is “hitting the nail on the head.”
Communication and tracking is the “root” of every problem in that department, Kilmer said.
The software Archibald would like to use would sync with that used in the county recorder’s office and can merge with the county’s accounting system, he said.
Archibald acknowledged the controversy of putting an IT guy in as head of the planning department.
“I intend to do no planning whatsoever.  None,” Archibald said.  “But there are things we can do with processes without a planner.  We have a bunch of things we can move forward with that have nothing to do with planning.”
These items include chain of custody, processes and notifications.
“They are all kind of a blur right now, and things we can fix not being a planner,” he said.  “If we have a good computer program and workflow tracking, the customer can get information, type in their permit number and see where it is.  Half the time it is with their engineer, not ours.”
Archibald said he would like to see the county hire a planner “yesterday,” as well as an additional building inspector.  
The job opening for a new county planner closed today and the council will try to expedite the hiring process.