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The improved pardon and parole system

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Last week I wrote about the national recognition provided to one of Oklahoma’s successful information technology projects. It’s important to note that this is just one of numerous successful ongoing IT projects which are making Oklahoma government more open and accessible to the state’s taxpayers. These project have come about due to a strong ethic of modernization which has taken root throughout Oklahoma’s state governance structure.

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

State Represenstative Jason Murphey

Here is one more example.

In August, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers announced their list of finalists for the 2014 State IT Recognition Awards. That list included a key Oklahoma IT modernization which is already reportedly saving millions of taxpayer dollars every year.

For many years now, Oklahoma’s Pardon and Parole Board has operated through an antiquated system which depended on multiple data re-entry processes into an underpowered database program from the mid-1990s. The program had been in use for so long that it had reached its capacity and state employees were forced to create multiple iterations of the database to house the information of the offenders they were charged with tracking. This inefficient process led to long delays in the pardon and parole process while the multiple data entries raised the prospect that human error could result in a dangerous mistake taking place within the corrections system.

The delay within the pardon and parole system became so pronounced that in an effort to deal with the delay an attempt was launched to remove the Governor from the important responsibility of approving paroles.

The Pardon and Parole Board asked the state’s web developers at OK.gov to create a new unified system for tracking their caseload. This new system replaced the multiple iterations of the old database and is set to provide several different forms of savings; for example, the time to prepare a docket for the review of the Pardon and Parole Board has dropped from four weeks to just three days; overall parole processing time has decreased from 30 to 90 days to just five to 10 days, which resulted in an approximate cost savings to Oklahoma taxpayers in fiscal year 2014 of 13.4 million dollars; and, the Board can now adjudicate cases on a weekly basis instead of monthly.

The reform has also provided transparency by allowing crime victims to view real-time results from the hearings. This has the double benefit of cutting cost to the Pardon and Parole Board as their incoming call volume has dropped simply because victims can now track parole hearings online.

The importance of this reform is reflected by its placement as a finalist for the State IT Recognition award. That award will be given later this year.

Oklahoma’s new IT successes are being made possible through the dedicated efforts of the state’s online web team, the Web Developers at OK.gov, the employees of our state Information Services Division, the members of the Government Technology Applications Review board who oversee various components of Oklahoma’s new information technology infrastructure and state agency officials such as those at Pardon and Parole which have seen the opportunity to modernize and have done so.

Next week, I will write about how one of the IT transparency reforms has had a very meaningful impact on a local House District 31 resident.

Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.

Categories: Column, local, Politics, state
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