Alfresco Brings Order to Cases in Multnomah County, Oregon

Multnomah County, with a population of just under 800,000 residents, is the most populated of Oregon's 36 counties. The county has 5,600 employees and provides numerous services for residents including seniors and disabled people services, animal services, community justice, courts, jails and more.

Being Oregon's most populated county, Multnomah County's District Attorney's office handles almost 30,000 adult and juvenile cases each year, generating some 500,000 documents annually. Additionally, the county had five million documents in physical storage – all without backup. The DA's office could only see a minority of its documentation electronically and its archived retrieval for case research averaged 72 hours. As a result, when attorneys needed to research a particular case from years ago, it would take three days to retrieve the case.  To further complicate matters, documents arrived to the DA's office from many sources, and in many formats. All of these had to be sorted, merged, and archived. The DA's office was the largest consumer of paper and archive storage in Multnomah County and documents were very difficult to search and retrieve. 

The County needed a document management system that could reliably store, index and retrieve its hard copy and electronic case material.  "We could clearly see that after many years of running our records management system that, by and of itself, it was inadequate," said Karl Kosydar, Multnomah County's IT manager. "It was insufficient and obsolete for hard copy maneuvering, which is really what forced our hand."  The county also needed to create a single electronic repository to manipulate, catalog and research all case management system-generated documents – as well as peripheral case documentation – that was viewable from any location within the network.  After evaluating several solutions, they chose Alfresco based on its open architecture and partnered with Micro Strategies to build a custom interface.  "We wanted an open source solution that integrated readily with our existing case management system. Alfresco fit the bill," Kosydar said. "Alfresco also met the Department of Defense's standards for open source and document management systems, which was a bonus."

Alfresco significantly reduced the DA office's paper consumption and file storage, making it the county's smallest – rather than largest – consumer of paper and archive storage. Today, the Multnomah County DA's office has very rapid case history research capability. Cases can now be researched in seconds rather than 72 hours.  "There has also been a huge reduction in liability for damaged and lost information, and lawyers have on-the-spot courtroom access to any of our case documents," Kosydar said.  Alfresco has also helped the county comply with the Oregon legislature's court-mandated E-filing requirements and its custom Discovery Builder application provides an interface to documents that have been identified as discoverable, allowing for redaction, bate stamping and version control.  Another key benefit of the solution is that users now have the ability to create an electronic Trial Notebook from available documents in the document management repository. Users choose files from a list and those files are exported into a single PDF document. Once the PDF is created, users can annotate and bookmark it to follow their trial plan and meet their needs.  "We have seen a huge reduction in work hours related to discovery preparation," said Kosydar. "Plus, we are now enabled for cloud delivery of discovery once we have established Safe Harbor, which is key for architecting for the future."