Counties collaborate to save tax dollars on technology

By MIKE DISHER
Guest Columnist

The state of Minnesota consists of 87 counties. For the most part, each of them needs to provide the same services to its citizens; and we all do so in similar ways. We have the same laws we are complying with, the same regulatory agencies and the same security concerns and restrictions. Along with that normally comes the same development costs.
Therefore, it makes sense, when practical, for us to work together as much as we can to reduce costs, and share solutions, training and related information. One of the ways we do that in Morrison County is by participating in the Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative (MnCCC).
Established in 1978, under Minnesota Statute 471.59, MnCCC works with all Minnesota counties in some capacity as a joint powers organization facilitating services and training, providing software and other cost-effective measures to substantially reduce technology costs for counties, cities and agencies. The organization provides an opportunity to collaborate on software and related support solutions.
Several different “user groups” work together to provide Minnesota-specific software for use in various county departments. Some of those groups own and manage their software; while other groups are using off-the-shelf software that has been customized for Minnesota.
Several Morrison County departments have software purchased and supported through MnCCC, including the Assessor’s office, Attorney’s office, Auditor/Treasurer’s office, Public Health office, and more. This software runs the gamut from tax revenue management, mass appraisal, health documentation, case management, capital asset management, payroll, etc.
Leveraging the economies of scale, MnCCC is able to negotiate much better rates for not only the software itself, but also for the ongoing maintenance and support fees. And because this joint powers organization is often viewed as one much-larger organization rather than several smaller ones, we enjoy more leverage when lobbying for modifications and customizations to make the products fit the government workflow better.
MnCCC has a limited staff of three, and is governed by a board of directors consisting of county representatives elected annually at a conference held in June.
More detailed information about the Minnesota Counties Computer Cooperative, is available at www.mnccc.org.

Mike Disher is the director of technology services for Morrison County.