Government is an information-intensive enterprise with a legal obligation to create and maintain huge volumes of public records. Motor vehicle records are a case in point. Paperwork problems exist in part because these records are caught up in processes that are often antiquated, slow, error prone, and expensive.
Document imaging and work flow management systems merge several technologies to convert paper documents to electronic images. They offer both operational and financial benefits. Document imaging systems, however, are expensive to implement, and they nearly always require extensive analysis, business process reengineering, and organizational change.
This first project of the Center for Technology in Government demonstrated document imaging and work flow solutions in a particular government application, the vehicle title operation at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. The project was completed in 1993 and produced a prototype application of a portion of the title issuance operation at DMV. The project answered many technical, managerial, and organizational questions. The project also involved demonstrations and presentations to more than thirty-five other government agencies and generated important lessons about imaging and work flow.
Vehicle titles are issued in New York State under provisions of the Uniform Vehicle Certificate of Title Act. At the time of the project, the process for issuing titles was largely paper-bound. Between 1970 and 1990, the number of titles issued annually by the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) had increased more than 400%, from 660,000 to over 3.7 million. Along with other factors, this growth in volume led to waiting times of up to 120 days to process a title application. The resulting inconvenience to customers received executive and legislative attention. A 1990 DMV study to resolve these problems recommended that the agency explore a computerized image transaction processing system to improve service.
The objectives of this project were therefore to:
To accomplish these objectives, the project team installed a basic imaging system at the Center for Technology in Government and developed a prototype application supporting the processing of requests for duplicate titles at DMV. The prototype allowed the team to investigate work flow software and its ability to facilitate business process reengineering, to demonstrate an interactive connection between this new application and the DMV mainframe, and to investigate ancillary technologies such as optical character recognition (OCR) and rapid prototyping tools.
The title imaging prototype is no longer operational, but descriptions of the design and requirements are included in the project report, Title Imaging Project with NYS Department of Motor Vehicles.
The following broader lessons of the project are of value to any government agency considering workflow and imaging technologies:
This project was supported entirely by the in-kind contribution of professional services, hardware, software, and communications provided by the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles; University at Albany faculty, staff, and students; and five corporate partners, led by AT&T Global Information Solutions.