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Macomb County

 The Macomb Daily

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Google dubs Sabaugh a 'Government Transformer'

Clerk has added high-tech services at low cost

By Chad Selweski

When she entered office as Macomb County clerk in 1992, Carmella Sabaugh’s high-tech skills were next to nothing. Now, she has been honored by Google as one of their “Government Transformers” due to her use of Google technology to increase efficiency and reduce costs.

In announcing the award, the tech company giant invited Sabaugh to post on their Google Enterprise Blog, which has a narrow but nationwide following.

“Around the world, public servants work hard each day to improve the way government operates,” said Tim Drinan of Google.” They build more transparent systems, improve services for the citizens, and reduce costs. Google proudly recognizes these Government Transformers, including Macomb County’s Carmella Sabaugh. We’re pleased to provide some of the tools that help Carmella improve the operations of the Macomb County Clerk’s office.”

With encouragement from her Deputy Clerk Todd Schmitz, Sabaugh has gradually relied upon high-tech tools to provide numerous Clerk’s Office services online over several years. Two years ago she decided to “go Google” and last year she took the leap by embracing “cloud computing,” an innovation pioneered by Google. The clerk used the software to improve her office’s efficiency during a time when she has endured budget cuts and a shrinking staff.

The Macomb County Circuit Court followed suit, and most county departments are also preparing to follow Sabaugh’s lead.

The Clerk’s Office relies upon Google Apps to: quietly communicate with clerks who are in court proceedings; provide electronic updates to jury room staff; deal with many different email formats with speed; send messages to attorneys who are juggling two court hearings in one day; and avoid downtime for maintenance or storm-related disruptions.

Yet, the cost of the system is just $59 per user, per year, which means an overall annual cost for all the licensed services, including security and anti-virus protections, of $24,000.

In addition, a “real time” system, made possible through Google Docs software designed for government, allows the clerk taking minutes at Board of Commissioners meetings to post motions, votes and roll call votes on the clerk’s website as they are being documented in the board chambers. When it debuted earlier this year, one commissioner immediately declared it a breakthrough in government transparency.

In her guest blog, Sabaugh wrote:

“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.

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