Tag Archives: outsourcing

Delayed Birth Certificate

How does you County define a “Delayed Birth”?

Here is what we do in Texas….

Delayed Certificate of Birth Registration    

If a birth occurring in this state is not officially registered within the first year, a Delayed Certificate of Birth may be requested through the Texas Vital Statistics office.

The procedures for filing a Delayed Certificate of Birth:

  1. A formal search must first be conducted to determine that the birth record is not on file.  Submit an application or written request for a certified copy of the birth certificate, along with the fee of $22.00 to Vital Statistics in Austin. ( For information on how to do this, please go to ( 
  2. If a birth record is found, Vital Statistics will send a certified copy of the record.  If record is not found, Vital Statistics will provide forms and instructions for filing a Delayed Certificate of Birth. Vital Statistics will retain the $22.00 as a search fee.
  3. When accepted for filing, the Delayed Certificate of Birth form (VS-122) will become the original birth certificate.  It must be completed neatly and legibly, signed before a notary public, and submitted along with the necessary supporting documentation to Vital Statistics in Austin. There are several acceptable forms of documentation, and they are explained in detail in the instructions provided. The cost for filing a Delayed Certificate of Birth is $25.00. Certified copies of the Delayed Certificate of Birth are $22.00 each.
  4. Supporting Documentation must be verified by Vital Statistics staff, sometimes with outside entities such as schools, churches, etc. Because of this requirement, the processing time generally takes 8 to 10 weeks.
  5. If the supporting documentation is not sufficient to file the Delayed Certificate of Birth, processing time could take several more weeks.

Seven Steps Towards A Successful Document Conversion Project

The service of converting paper or microfilm documents to digital format is a commodity in the document conversion world. It seems that anyone can become a service bureau with an inexpensive scanner and rudimentary capture software. The problem is there is really so much more to scanning than meets the eye – and this doesn’t become apparent until you have paid someone to scan a million of your documents just to discover you can only access about 750,000 of them within your document management software. Oh, and this realization happens about a year after you have signed off on the project.
How will you ever know if the bureau actually scanned 100% of your images? How will you know if they delivered 100% of them to you? I was once part of a project where we had partnered with a service bureau to scan land records books from a major US county. During the process, the partner delivered 50,000 medical records images by mistake. Talk about a disaster – this is one of the worst I have ever experienced. Billing throughout the remainder of the project constant struggle. Delivery details such as which images and how many were never accurate. To help ensure a successful backfile project, include some type of pre-project checklist.

The following is a suggested minimum for this check-list:

  1. Pre-scan inventory
  2. Pilot process to establish image quality standards
  3. Indexing nomenclature and detail
  4. Error rating process (by image, record, index…)
  5. Batch delivery schedule including durations and volumes
  6. Reconciliation methodology to original inventory
  7. Review and error reporting process

10 Questions to Ask Before Starting Your Backfile Scanning Project

Backfile Scanning: Prior to beginning any type of backfile scanning  project, you must determine one goal; “Ultimately, how do I need to use these digital images?” If you only need copies of your images on USBs or DVDs, then that is all you  need to ask for. But if you actually intend on accessing these documents in  their digital format within your document or content management system, then you will need to establish a way to ensure you are receiving what you are expecting.

Good Questions to ask you conversion vendor:

  1. How are we going to look-up these records digitally?
  2. The image quality is important to us – must we pay extra for image enhancement.
  3. Will we  be able to do a full-text search within these records?
  4. How much space will these images take up on our servers?
  5. What image format do we need?
  6. Do we need additional software to search for and view the digital records or can we use what we have?
  7. How will the accuracy be calculated for this project?
  8. How long with the project take?
  9. How will we be allowed to review the work?
  10. 10. What is your guarantee policy?

Government Software Buyer Beware – Avoid Proprietary

This might be better stated as “beware of proprietary image file types”. 

It was during the 1980’s when document management software first impacted the day-to-day business of local government. The ability to convert paper and microfilm images into digital images and then access them on a computer was almost revolutionary. Maybe it was… Initially, document management software vendors created closed architecture applications that relied upon proprietary (non-standard) image file types. Today we would consider standard image file types (not including-Microsoft/Windows types) as, Group IV tif, PDF, JPEG, GIF and etc…

These early developers of document management products competed primarily against themselves for much of this government business. A vendor could produce a reliable product, distribute it heavily and charge just about whatever they wanted for annual support. Vendors locked government offices into long-term support contracts for what seemed like perpetuity.

However, many of these vendors could not or would not keep up with the rapid evolution of technology. The platforms they originally built upon and the development languages they used became obsolete. The document management world began to embrace more standard platforms and languages.

Government offices found themselves locked into early generation document management products that did not deliver as well as new technology. Support costs were high and performance, by comparison, was poor.

So here is where the really big problem came into view. As government offices were deciding to upgrade to new document management technology, they became aware that they could not use their legacy images. Why, because the legacy images were in proprietary formats. These images could only be viewed in the original, now obsolete, software. Converting the proprietary images to standard image formats could only be done by the original vendor, and you guessed it, vendors were charging outrageous fees for these services. The fees required to convert their legacy images many times made the move to new technology cost prohibitive. Eventually, all of these dinosaurs became extinct, right….

Wrong – Proprietary is back and in a big way. There are multiple vendors in the local government market today selling document conversion services bundled with proprietary software. Deals are disguised as exceptionally inexpensive conversion services bundled with the vendor’s proprietary document viewing software. We know that price is always the predominant factor in purchasing at the local government level. However, what has happened now, un-suspecting government offices find themselves in the same predicament as their predecessors 20 years ago. The upfront price to provide the document conversion services seems too good to be true – and it is. Just like in days past, when the government office needs to export their images out of this proprietary environment for other uses, the answer from their vendor is “NO, you cannot have your images”.  These un-suspecting government customers are required to view their scanned images in the vendor’s software or not at all. To have use of the images in another document management system, you will need to pay to have the original documents scanned again.

How to avoid this trap?               

Prior to signing any contract with a document conversion vendor, demand that you receive your images in a standard format that you can use in any system. This will deter most of the proprietary vagrants from trying to lock you and your department into an embarrassing mess.


Document Scanning and the Three Legged Stool

Have you been to a “Scanning  Seminar” recently?  You probably walked away believing that the document scanning was the most  import part of any “conversion project”.

But then you visited with a consultant who greatly  undervalued the importance of the scanning with a dismissing statement such as,  “anybody can scan paper (or microfilm)”… He or she then explained that the crucial element of a document scanning project is  the consulting and professional services to implement your project.

But wait; now you visit with a software salesperson. You are informed that buying the proper software  will ensure a successful project no matter what type of scanning and/or  professional services you employ.

Referencing the “Three Legged Stool” analogy, we can see  that if any of these three elements fail to deliver, you will fall right upon  your _ _ _. Experience will tell us that each of these elements is  equally important.  Each is dependent  upon the other to ensure a successful project:

Scanning Service:  Proven Quality Control and Project Tracking methodologies along with proper hardware and software are crucial in the success of your project. Determining the document capture configuration is entirely dependent  upon the type and volume of your source documents. The software functionality  used to do image clean-up is the most important in this selection. If you  intend on OCR or automated forms processing, image quality is key to  success.

Professional Services: These services should set the table for the project. From  elements such as a pre-scan inventory, importing scanned images into your new software, pilot projects, project milestones, determining indexing  nomenclature, network requirements, training and other elements involved in the  over-all project implementation are the nexus to the software and scanning.

Enterprise Document/Content Management Software: Of course  software is always important. Your software selection must meet and exceed your  current needs and provide scalability for the future. Very cliché, but  truthful; by working with both a good consultant and a good software vendor,  you will get more of a 360 degree view of what you will get out of your new  software. Initially, you should access the scanned images in your new  software system in a way similar to that if you were looking for these records  in a standard file cabinet. Moving too many steps passed this may lead to user confusion, a feeling of intimidation and a  lack of user buy-in.

Preparing for OCR

Optical Character Recognition – Per Wikipedia, OCR is the mechanical or electronic translation of scanned images of handwritten, typewritten or printed text into machine-encoded text. Applied to the appropriate document type and format, OCR processing is extremely useful and can save both internal resources and CAPEX along with producing a higher quality product than if done by hand-key entry.

Unfortunately, OCR is not for every project. Skewed text, rough text, heavy noise, lines and other foreign data interfering with a clear and uninterrupted view and scan of text will reduce accuracy.

OCR engines are very linear processes – they look horizontally and perpendicularly across digital images. Any skewing from a 90 degree orientation will negatively affect any OCR engine. Additionally, OCR engines are not magic but very pragmatic. Images must contain familiar text resembling existing alphabetical characters. Anything that distorts standard text will reduce accuracy.

The following are industry accepted steps used to increase OCR accuracy:

Deskew – Software process, using various advanced algorithms, will identify the text orientation and attempt to align the image to a perfect 90 degree.

Noise Reduction – Also known as despeckling – software process that will remove small imperfections, spots, scratches, blotches and random marks from within the white area in a digital image. Removing these imperfections will reduce OCR engine interference and reduce “false positive” reads.

Dilation/Erosion – Text quality is the key to OCR accuracy. These filters can smooth the edges of text by removing pixels that represent rough edges or add pixels to fill missing data with a character.

Line Removal –  Speciality software can provide the functionality to remove lines from an image. Removing lines reduces OCR interference.

Red/Blue/Green Dropout – Using the proper settings, color scanners will “not capture” red, blue and green data within an image. Many times, pre-printed forms have the boxes and response areas printed in red, blue or green. This is purposefully done, so that during the scanning process, the box lines and response areas are not captured and thus is less interference with the OCR engine.

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