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When the economy gets tough, the tough get innovative

Posted by Carmella Sabaugh, Register of Deeds, Macomb County Clerk

Editors note: In March 2011, we announced the Macomb County Circuit Court and Clerk/Register of Deeds have gone Google. Almost a year later, we’re honored to recognize Macomb County Clerk / Register of Deeds Carmella Sabaugh as one of our Government Transformers.

Like others hit hard by the recession, the Macomb County Clerk’s office in Michigan was forced to make tough decisions. But when faced with setbacks, we respond boldly. To borrow Theodore Roosevelt’s words, “We refuse to be among those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.” Macomb County is now one of only 67 counties nationwide to earn a AAA bond rating from Standard & Poor’s. 'AAA' is the highest issuer credit rating assigned by Standard & Poor's, recognizing that a county has extremely strong capacity to meet its financial commitments.

One way we innovate is to use Google Apps for Government to improve service and save money. In the past it could be disruptive for court clerks to receive phone calls while court was in session since they’d be helping judges work through their dockets. But some matters require immediate attention. Google Chat makes it easy for court clerks to instantly get information without disrupting the docket flow, and it reduces incoming phone calls and walk-up requests. Clerks can work from any courtroom or back office without requiring a complicated workstation setup or changes.

The circuit court clerk also uses a Google spreadsheet to maintain a dashboard for the office. Everyday the attendance data of all job duties gets automatically populated and color coded with a progress chart. This allows the chief court clerk to allocate staff efficiently to keep the office running smoothly and efficiently. The clerk’s office uses Google Docs to create county commission meetings minutes which allows real-time collaboration among the commissioners. The public can watch it as it’s being created and learn about voting results right away.

Our staff is able to improve citizen services with the latest technology tools. We are a government of the people by the people and for the people. We are the Macomb County Clerk’s office. And we’ve gone Google.