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Sweeping Away Government’s Paper Crush

CTG’s management software will allow Digital Towpath to bring local NYS governments together to better handle important digital records throughout their lifecycles.

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 19, 2015) — UAlbany’s Center for Technology in Government (CTG) is partnering with one of the state’s leading providers of e-government solutions to help small to medium governments dig out from a growing avalanche of digital records and emerge paper-free, bearing greater openness and transparency.

CTG is working to enhance the management software used by Digital Towpath (DTP), a shared service with more than 15 years of experience in bringing the state’s smaller governments together in mutual support for the better use of e-government technology systems.

The management of “born digital records” — records created in digital form such as databases, e-mail, word processing, and reporting systems — is a pressing challenge for small local governments. While the most efficient way for these governments to retain and manage such records throughout their lifecycle would be digital storage, smaller governments typically have limited technical capability and expertise to achieve this.

As a result, these governments often fall back on paper output and manual processes that consume staff time, slow down operations, increase costs, and ultimately affect citizens’ access to public records.

Spearheaded by CTG and funded by the NYS Archives Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund, this project will help DTP provide its local government members with the functionality to manage “born digital” records in a format that will use tax payer dollars more efficiently, allow citizens better access to critical data, and ultimately help government meet the demands to be more open and transparent.

Additionally, increased records management capability will allow governments to better safeguard information and more easily comply with increasingly demanding records management laws.

DTP sought CTG’s expertise on this project because of CTG’s more than 20 years of experience in helping government agencies modernize through the innovative use of information and technology in order to provide better value to citizens and solve pressing public problems.

“CTG is proud to work with DTP to help localities in New York State become better stewards of their records, while also enabling greater transparency through increased access,” said Theresa Pardo, director of CTG. “The CTG/DTC partnership will create a new focus on the records being produced by local governments in New York State, and will create new capabilities to meet the records management obligations of the localities while also increasing access to and use of those same records.”

The project will consist of three phases and will culminate after 18 months with training materials, a user manual, and webinar to accompany the system prototype.

"Digital Towpath is pleased to be working with the Center for Technology in Government at UAlbany on this project so vitally important to local governments and citizens throughout New York State,” said Mitchell Levinn, mayor of the Village of East Nassau and board chair of the Digital Towpath Cooperative.

CEAC Students Get Involved

The project, overseen by Derek Werthmuller, CTG director of technology innovation and services, and Jim Costello, CTG web application developer, will engage four UAlbany College of Engineering and Applied Sciences students, working in CTG’s student lab, who will analyze DTP’s existing electronic records management system (ERMS) to include a comprehensive mapping of the current code.

Their work will help minimize the costs of developing the new software needed to enhance the ERMS. Students and CTG staff will work collaboratively as a unit across overlapping phases to reach common goals. “Experiential learning opportunities such as working with CTG and DTP on this project are designed to have lasting effects on a student’s future career by providing them with real-world, practical experience to supplement their classroom education,” said Werthmuller.

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