Redaction: Center of Comprehensive Court Records Management

Interview with Daniel Krueger - Ottawa County, Michigan Clerk and Register of Deeds

Extract: The County Clerk’s office implemented a comprehensive court records management software system that ties the police, prosecutor and court records together. What motivated you to create this system? Is it a homegrown solution, commercial software or a hybrid? [Redaction is at the center of court records management]

Krueger: Our court records management system was created out of a need to get things done on time, provide better service to our constituents and reduce the stress on court staff. We had asked for several additional employees over the years and had been refused. We were in a situation such that we were falling further and further behind in getting our work done and needed a fix that did not include new employees.We set up a committee to look at what was needed and the concept of digitizing the records and moving them electronically from office to office was the one we thought would work well and resolve the service and staffing issues we confronted. We worked with all the justice area departments as well as our IT and set up an RFP. The software we acquired was the OnBase system by Hyland Software. It was marketed through ImageSoft Inc. and it fit exactly what we wanted at a cost that was right. From that point on, the implementation was homegrown in the sense we developed the workflows, security, and processes to do what we needed and to follow state and local court rules as well as state law. We continue to develop new programs and processes with the software so it is a constantly evolving process.

Extract: The offices of the clerk and register of deeds were consolidated into a single position in 2010. Has this impacted constituents?

Krueger: The actual combination of the offices occurred in 2013 and I was elected to the position in 2012. I do not agree with the combination as the offices are not similar, but given the job, we do it. There really has been little evident impact on the citizens of the county. The Chief Deputy Register of Deeds really runs the day to day operations of the office since I have very little time to be in that office due to my responsibilities with the courts and elections. The staff in the Deeds office does an excellent job so there is little the constituents would notice that has changed.

Extract: You and your team have been involved in the Michigan Association of Registers of Deeds. How has this experience benefited the citizens of Ottawa County?

Krueger: My predecessor initiated an e-filing system in the Deeds office prior to my arrival. We have been a strong advocate of electronic filing. By being involved with the Association, we have an opportunity to promote the digitalization process statewide. We have also been able to promote law and rule changes through the Association.

Extract: Registers of Deeds in Michigan are not required to redact Social Security numbers from recorded documents. In your 35-year experience as a county government official, do you feel keepers of the public record bear a responsibility to protect citizens’ private information?

Krueger: As a government official, I believe I have a responsibility and a duty to protect a person’s private information when the law say I have to do that. I deal with that on the Clerk’s side of the office all the time. In most cases, however, the laws in Michigan dictate what I should legally protect and what I should do with that information. We are working on some of that process in the Deeds Association now as we respond to potential legislative action. Personally, I think Social Security numbers should be redacted. However, the cost is significant to go back and do that to all the files.

Extract: You’re stepping down effective June 27. What types of activities will you be enjoying in beautiful Ottawa County with its incomparable Lake Michigan shoreline, sand dunes and 6,000+ acres of county parks, trails and natural areas?

Krueger: My wife and I have plans to travel some after the 27th of June, but initially, I am going to relax and enjoy the time at home. I will be looking at some volunteer activities with my church, being able to go to my grandsons’ ball games and play some golf with them as well. You’re correct about Ottawa County- it is beautiful and one of the best places to live in the U.S.

About the Author: Greg Gies

For 20 years in the software industry, Greg Gies has been helping businesses, government agencies and healthcare organizations achieve their goals and carry out their missions by making better use of information and automating business processes. Greg has held positions in sales, product management and marketing and holds an MBA from Babson College.