County lawyer’s workplace seeks software program improve

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County attorney's office seeks software upgrade

The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners gave the county attorney’s office the go-ahead Oct. 21 to update its management software using federal dollars.

Marcia Boris, county attorney, told commissioners she had received the green light to use roughly $37,000 from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act for a new case management system. All she needed was the board’s permission to sign the deal before the end of the calendar year.

Boris said her office began looking into the project after they were preapproved for the money. After meeting with a vendor, the office was given a slightly higher dollar amount — accounting for data conversion and training. Federal officials took a second look and signed off on that figure as well, she said.

Questioned about the necessity of the upgrade, Boris said the county’s existing management system had slowed down since the start of the pandemic. She anecdotally attributed it to more people using the system while they worked remotely.

But computing power aside, Boris said the new system was geared toward prosecutorial work.

“This system is, it’s developed specifically for us,” she said. “It has a number of features the other system does not have.”

Among those, it is compatible with electronic filing and offers increased efficiency in issuing and serving subpoenas, Boris said.

County Commissioner Josh Letcher (D-3) asked for more specifics regarding the type of work the system would help with. Why was it geared toward prosecution, he asked.

“Our job is to prosecute criminal offenses on behalf of the county and the state of Montana. That is probably 80 to 90 percent of what we do,” Boris said.

Letcher followed up by asking whether the system was related to Gov. Steve Bullock’s mask mandate. The controversial directive requires residents in counties with more than four active cases of COVID-19 to don masks in places where social distancing is impossible or ignored.

Boris told Letcher that the system primarily would be used for day-to-day business.

Letcher ultimately made the motion to approve the upgrade. County Commissioner Jerry Bennett (D-2) offered a second. County Commissioner Mark Peck was not in attendance.

The motion passed by a 2-0 vote.

Boris also told commissioners the county stood to receive a discount on yearly licensing fees. With more than 30 counties in the state moving toward the upgrade at once, they stood to earn a 15 percent savings. That could increase depending on how many counties ultimately adopted the new system, she said.

The price tag for the yearly license comes to about $15,750 without the discount, which is comparable to what they pay annually for the existing system, Boris said.