How the Delaware County Recorder’s Office Modernized Its Records and Archival System
Since 2020, Delaware County, Pennsylvania has launched multiple initiatives to bring innovative programs to the county, modernize outdated systems, and improve services for its more than 575,000 residents. Later this year, Delaware County will become the third county in Pennsylvania to launch GovOS Cloud Search, the most powerful government records search engine available.
County Recorder of Deeds Robert A. Auclair, Esq. has overseen the implementation of digital solutions, beginning with bringing county land records online in 2020.
His office went on to launch the GovOS fraud alert system to help property owners safeguard themselves against property record fraud. In 2022, they began working with GovOS to migrate all historical images and go-forward records to PDF/A for archival cloud storage.
Delaware County, PA
Robert A. Auclair
Recorder of Deeds
At what point did you decide it was time to bring Delaware County records online?
In 2019, our land records were still not online, and we were one of the largest counties in the country that was not set up for eRecording. Everything, including title searching, was handled entirely in the office. That year, we began searching for a land records software management system to start the process of moving our records online.
We toured surrounding counties that use GovOS, and after a thorough and formal vendor evaluation process, we requested approval from County Council to move forward with the project. eRecording followed shortly after, and since then, we’ve added additional GovOS services. Since go-live, we’ve brought more than 12 million records online. In 2022, eRecordings were 86% of our overall submissions.
Did the pandemic play a role in the decision to digitize Delaware County records?
We were already converting our documents when COVID-19 hit, but we hadn’t started eRecording. This meant title searchers at the time still had to make an appointment to come into the office. We worked to expedite the go-live process and were up and running by mid-October 2020. We also began accepting credit card payments both in the office and online. As an additional security measure, we instituted a disaster recovery system that would, in the event of a problem with the county server, allow the office to continue to conduct business without any significant disruption.
Since CARES Act funds had to be used by the end of the year, we allocated some of that money to this project, and then in 2021, we used ARPA funds for the Image Integrity Project.
Can you share more about the Image Integrity Project?
We started and finished the project in 2022. It marked the first time in the history of our office that we were taking a close look at everything to ensure the integrity and accuracy of our records. During the process, GovOS reviewed almost 5 million images, and we discovered hundreds of old books and images on microfilm that had never been inventoried.
Millions of TIFF files were missing page breaks, so we needed to make these files searchable and printable. Every document had to be reviewed, page by page, to find gaps and any poor-quality images. They were then stapled, bundled, and loaded into our online records system.
What are some other records projects Delaware County has been working on?
After the image integrity project, we launched the GovOS property fraud alert system. The service appealed to us because it empowers citizens by giving them a way to proactively monitor their records and protect against fraud. We’ve been working hard to get the word out so citizens know this free service is available.
At the end of 2022, we worked with GovOS to convert all our historical records—more than 35 million images—to PDF/A. Everything in our database is now archived in secure and redundant cloud storage. This is a much more practical and state-of-the-art alternative to microfilm.
Microfilm creation has become more costly and the additional cost of transporting it to and from an outside storage location as well as storage costs were not practical in the long term. We also worked with GovOS to set up automated services to archive all our day-forward records to PDF/A. We are now confident that our records are archived consistently and that any added images are archived as well.
Launching GovOS Cloud Search will make millions of county public records even more accessible and searchable. Citizens can also use this system to purchase certified copies online along with documents and index prints in the comfort of their home or office. All our documents will be processed for optical character recognition (OCR), to allow users to search the text contained in our documents in addition to the readily available index data.
In what ways has Delaware County benefited from updating processes like these?
Before our records were online, all searches had to be done in the office, and every single piece of paper had to be physically delivered to the office. The changes have significantly reduced the amount of traffic coming into the office. Title searchers no longer have to commute and try to find parking; they can relocate to other counties without missing a beat. There is big cost savings all around—financial benefits to everyone concerned—and a lot less hassle.
For more information about the GovOS Official Public Records solution, visit govos.com/official-public-records
Want to learn more about what GovOS has to offer?