By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor
Moving county human service departments from the paper age into the electronic age is something counties all across Minnesota are working towards. The Houston County Board discussed ways of achieving that goal during the Human Services Board meeting last week.
Human Services Director Linda Bahr informed the commissioners about progress being made. Bahr explained that county staff has been working with Dodge, Wabasha, Steele and Waseca counties to collectively develop an Electronic Data Management System. By working as a collaborative, the five counties would be able to share the estimated $15,000 to $18,000 cost of developing the system.
Bahr said county staff has been making progress with this endeavor, but needed to make a commitment with the other four counties very soon.
Commissioner Tom Bjerke asked if county staff had been discussing the EDMS with Fillmore or Winona counties. He opined since the three counties might end up forming a collaborative for human services redesign and the much closer geographical proximity, county staff should be looking closer to home.
“If they (Winona and Fillmore counties) have the same system as what we’re looking at, maybe we should look into this instead of spending $3,000 just for consulting fees,” Bjerke said.
It was noted that Winona County already has the EDMS in place and is working out all the technology bugs with Fillmore County. The cost of the entire EDMS for Winona County was $325,000. The commissioners figured Winona County would jump at the chance of including Houston County in the system.
Board Chair Jack Miller said he would be attending a meeting with a county commissioner from both Fillmore and Winona counties and would discuss the matter with them.
The board instructed Bahr to contact the four other counties and let them know that Houston County would be putting any collaborating for the EDMS on hold for now.