New systems will boost records efficiency, make city codes more accessible, Lawrence city clerk says

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The City of Lawrence is implementing new systems that will help speed up responses to record requests, make city codes easier for the public to navigate and more, according to City Clerk Sherri Riedemann.

The city’s new document management system, Laserfiche, will also allow the city to route more documents for review and signatures electronically.

“Right now, we still have a lot of physical routing of documents, so this will really increase our efficiency and also help us move towards a paperless environment,” Riedemann told the Lawrence City Commission on Tuesday.

The system has increased security, and it will make it easier to give individuals or groups access to records. And it will allow the city to hide sensitive data from unauthorized users, and apply redactions to portions of open records that are not open to the public.

“It also can perform and save granular searches across a wide set of attributes for ease and quick content retrieval,” Riedemann said. “This means that we will have a quicker response to internal and external records requests.”

It will also allow for legal holds on documents that could become part of litigation so that they cannot be deleted, she said.

Riedemann said “eventually” the system will be in use for all city departments, as their systems age out.

Lawrence city commissioners on Aug. 15 approved a $112,000 agreement for implementation and startup costs of Laserfiche.

A person in attendance at the meeting asked about keeping physical backups of documents rather than relying solely on cloud-based retention of information. Brian Thomas, technology director for the city, said in response that the cloud-based system used for government storage must be certified at high standards.

Riedemann said the city attorney’s office is also working with her office on a municipal code online system, Municode, from CivicPlus.

An attorney specifically assigned to the city has been doing a legal review to identify and eliminate any conflicts, inconsistencies and obsolete provisions. That review is complete and now the project is moving into edits, Riedemann said.

A final ordinance codifying that will come to the Lawrence City Commission, probably, in spring of 2024, she said.

That system will have good search capabilities so, for instance, if someone wants to research municipal codes on keeping chickens, they’ll easily be able to search and pull that up, Riedemann said.

“It’s really going to make the city code a lot more accessible than it is currently,” she said. “It’s there, and it’s on our website and it’s great, but you really don’t have good search functionality.”

Lawrence City Manager Craig Owens said the city is an outlier, especially for its size, for not having search capability.

The system will keep a permanent archive of previous versions of codes.

It will also make it easier to look at comparable city codes and ordinances in a municipal law library that includes hundreds or thousands of other cities, “which is great for code research,” Riedemann said.

“I know not everybody gets excited about code stuff,” Owens said, laughing. “But for those that do pay attention to what we do here and the laws that we have that affect everybody, and that want to do that research and want to self-serve, and engage in their government — this is going to be so much better than what we have.”

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Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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