Chester Township works to maintain, protect records

It’s always nice to see local governments taking steps to better organize and maintain their records. – NJFOG

December 2, 2015
By MARK KITCHIN Staff Writer
(article here and re-posted below)

CHESTER TWP. – Records and how to keep and protect them was the subject of much of the Township Council meeting on Tuesday.

The council heard presentations from the township clerk and police chief about their handling of public records now and in the future.

Township Clerk Robin Collins talked of the importance of scanning the backlog of government records which includes any written documents created in the course of government business.

“The number of OPRA (Open Public Records Act) requests we get every year is ever increasing,’’ Collins said. “More and more companies use OPRA requests. We average three requests per week and the cost to research these requests is $305 of employee time per week.’’

Much of the requests are from Realtors looking for background information on properties they are trying to sell.

Collins is recommending a system that would cost more than $30,000 that would scan the backlog and keep it on computer since most replies are requested in e-mail form.

The hard copy records would still maintained off-site instead of cluttering up the township offices.

Police Chief Thomas Williver said he wants to implement PowerDMS, a system that is used in many Morris County police departments.

The main goal would be to organize and manage documents to industry standards and to ensure that employees are trained in compliance with those standards.

The system can also work with the Department of Public Works in terms of its compliance and knowledge of regulations in its field.

It can also be integrated somewhat to improve communications between the two departments. The cost of the program would be a little over $4,000.

Overall, committee members were favorable to both presentations and advised the departments to place their requests for the systems in the upcoming budget.

It was also suggested that the systems contracts be examined further by the township’s attorney.