INcite Cuts through the Paperwork

E-newsletter #60/November 18, 2010

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles had a problem.

In 2005, federal regulations required all convictions and tickets for commercial drivers to be entered into the Bureau of Motor Vehicles computer system within 30 days. Few courts in the state were sending their information electronically. Most of them were either faxing or mailing in rulings. That meant 10,000 paper orders coming in each week had to be entered by a clerk into the bureau’s computer system.

The convictions, which were supposed to be entered in 30 days, actually took more than 50 days to get posted.

“We were not in compliance with reporting conviction and ticket information,” said Mary L. DePrez, director and counsel for trial court technology for the Indiana Supreme Court.

So the developers in the trial court technology office came up with INcite—the Indiana Court Information Transmission Extranet.  It is a secured website any court can access and upload their cases. It is linked to the bureau’s database, which is instantly updated. The system came online in 2006. INcite is one of eight national winners of CSG Innovations Awards.

The development of INcite was paid for by a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation. About half that money, said DePrez, was used to buy computers and establish Internet connections in court clerks’ offices that didn’t have them. As with any great technological leap, not everybody was happy with the idea.

“It was challenging,” DePrez said, “because first of all, we even had clerks’ offices that didn’t want their staff to have access to the Internet. So we had to deal with that mentality, that the Internet wasn’t a bad thing.”

She said clerks accepted the website because it was easy to use. For instance, they could fill in a driver’s license number and the program automatically filled the required fields. It cut the time spent on a task by more than half, DePrez said.

“This was the carrot that we held out to them. This application really did ensure they could get their work done faster,” she said.

INcite was so useful that other departments started asking for their own programs to help speed data sharing between the state and communities. In April 2007, electronic marriage records were added so local circuit court clerks could share that information with the state Department of Health. In 2009, the department developed a program that sped up how quickly the state could verify and reimburse localities for services provided for delinquent children. Another program in 2009 provided a direct link between the courts and the FBI so mental health rulings—which may prevent someone from buying a gun—could be shared quickly.

“As we meet and work with more stakeholders, more state agencies, we’re finding more and more information that needs to be exchanged on the state and local level,” DePrez said. “We just build upon the success of that (INcite) project. Because of the way we built INcite, we can easily … add another initiative fairly easily, fairly quickly and fairly cost effectively.

DePrez said other states can easily replicate the project. States could simply look at the INcite software and make minor tweaks, she said.

“I think that would be attractive to other states, she added.”

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