(Left to right: Commissioner Theresa Daniel, Urban Counties Executive Director Donald Lee, County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins)
Return on Investment
On February 2, 2016, Mr. Donald Lee, Executive Director, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, presented checks totaling nearly $180,000 to Dallas County Commissioners Court. These funds represent Dallas County’s share of the capital funding providing by Potter County when they elected to share in the development of the TechShare.Court and Prosecutor software systems. When a new county elects to join in sharing Urban Counties’ software, they provide their fair share of the capital funds that were required to develop or acquire the software. The capital funds are then distributed to the other participating counties in proportion to the funds they provided to build the shared system. As a result, Dallas, Tarrant, Travis and Midland Counties each received a portion of the funds Potter County paid to the Texas Conference of Urban Counties to join these two initiatives.
(Left to right: Commissioner Theresa Daniel, Commissioner Mike Cantrell, Urban Counties Executive Director Donald Lee, County Judge Clay Lewis Jenkins, Commissioner John Wiley Price, Commissioner Elba Garcia)
Similarly, when Collin and Denton counties made the decision to join in sharing the TechShare.Juvenile resource, funds were returned to Dallas and Tarrant Counties. As one of the pioneers in developing this juvenile case management system, Dallas County has received more than $540,000 for their participation and funding of a system that is currently used in 250 Texas counties.
(Left to right: Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, Commissioner Andy H. Nguyen, County Judge B. Glen Whitley, TechShare Program Director Charles Gray, Commissioner Gary Fickes, Commissioner J.D. Johnson)
A capital refund of more than $300,000 was also presented in Tarrant County:
Commissioner Roy Charles Brooks, Precinct 1, said, “We are developing software that we need; software that we would have either had to develop on our own or buy from somebody else. To get money back for doing something that we would have had to do anyway…that’s a good deal.”
Here’s how TechShare works: unlike private software vendors, TechShare provides a return on investment to counties that initiate a project if additional counties join the effort after development is complete. Future capital payments from new participants are distributed proportionately to the counties that funded the effort.
This isn’t the only way TechShare programs provide benefits to the counties. One of the most recent examples came out Dallas County’s TechShare.Prosecutor system. Dallas County went live on the web-based prosecutor case management system in March 2014.
According to Ellyce Lindberg, Assistant District Attorney, “Cases can be presented to grand juries faster, which shortens jail stays. The software allows the county to track where cases get stuck.”
Not only has this reduced jail population, but Dallas County estimates cost savings of about $3M per year because offenders are being processed more quickly through the system.
Another program that’s had a similar impact on the community is TechShare.Juvenile. Since counties are sharing information about youth across Texas, they can make more informed decisions about how to rehabilitate our youth in an effort to protect them from becoming adult offenders. This saves counties money and improves outcomes for troubled youth.
Big Things Happen When Counties Come Together
One of the principles of the association is to facilitate collaboration, not only between counties, but between companies and organizations as well. For example, last August, Urban Counties invited a number of software providers (EMC, Panasonic, Microsoft, and others) to participate in a Digital Multimedia Evidence (DME) summit.
(Troy Pickett, Resource Manager, leading a discussion on the challenges counties face with a rise in evidence piling up in digital formats and the storage costs associated with it.)
More than 100 county representatives and software vendors congregated at the TechShare Development Center in Austin, TX to discuss the challenges related to DME, including the cost of storage, retention policies, privacy concerns, data ownership, and more. Since the summit, vendors such as Panasonic have been meeting with participating counties to collect feedback that will have a direct impact on product development and end user experience.
One of the attendees stated, “Other than learning that DME isn’t just a troublesome issue in my county alone, I would say the single most valuable thing I learned was that there are solutions available right now that I didn’t have information about before attending.”
County Collaboration is Critical to Our Success
Dallas County, in particular, has played an integral role in shaping county-owned software products beginning with the Juvenile Information System (JIS) in 2004. Since then, the county has not only participated in, but had a lot of success with, projects like TechShare.Juvenile, TechShare.Prosecutor, and—more recently—TechShare.Court.
“One thing we saw replicating itself in every county, is us being held hostage by IT vendors,” said Commissioner Mike Cantrell. He continued by saying, “Why not have a system, no matter if you’re a large medium or small county, everyone can have the same excellent system, share the operation of that.”
TechShare has a 12-year history of making a difference in communities like Dallas by developing quality software that makes a positive economic impact in the community, and that’s something our members can trust in.