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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VI, Issue 3||March 2003|
During the past several years there have been a number of technological advancements at the Maine State Retirement System. Two initiatives have been at the forefront of MSRS efforts: the inaugural launch of a new Website ( www.msrs.org ) and MSRS move to an Electronic Imaging System.
With the aim of providing information to members in a more timely method, the new Website contains content about MSRS operations and member benefits. Included are PDF files of member booklets, newsletters, publications, and forms. Links and information about legislation of interest to MSRS members, retirees, and employers are easily accessible. The site is a first step in a multi-step process intended to bring information and tools that can help members understand benefits, stay current on benefit changes, as well as assist with retirement planning. MSRS intends to work diligently to increase the information and services provided on the site and welcomes comments and ideas.
The second latest MSRS technological advancement nearing implementation is the completion of phase one in the development of an Electronic Imaging System. Until recently, paper records of all non-payroll-related documents (e.g. applications) were copied onto, and stored on microfiche. Additionally, payroll information that pre-dates our Membership Records Keeping System ("MRKS") is also stored on, microfiche. Microfiche is outdated, technology is becoming unsupported, and therefore a conversion of the fiche was required in order to ultimately integrate the imaging system with all incoming paper documents into electronic images.
The Electronic Imaging System will allow MSRS to maintain an electronic copy of all member documents (sent by, or to the MSRS) in a secure electronic repository capable of being viewed on the desktops of specific MSRS staff. It will greatly improve the staff's ability to access member-based documents needed to handle the daily work in areas such as membership inquiries, retirement applications, and group life insurance and survivor claims.
The MSRS' first phase approach to imaging was to replace its existing microfiche system used for storing member files with a basic storage and retrieval system. Although the initial imaging effort is limited to a storage and retrieval solution for member files, a major challenge of the project has been to insure that the technology is adequately robust, so that it can be the foundation for more sophisticated imaging related activities in the future.
Having the imaging project underway is essential at this time, since a fire last April destroyed storage space rented by the MSRS in Manchester, Maine. While all of the original member documents that were stored at the warehouse had previously been copied onto microfiche maintained at the System's main office in Augusta, the fire did leave some members records on microfiche that now have no backup copy. Therefore the imaging project has become all the more critical in that it will fill this gap.
Ultimately the technology will provide the framework and capacity to bar-code documents, image documents directly from other software applications such as word processing, accept imaged documents from participating employers, and operate workflow, which involves the electronic movement of documents from one office to another.
Upon implementation of the new Electronic Imaging System, member-based documents will be scanned into the system using one of two automatic scanners in our records management area and stored on the imaging file server in our computer room. In addition, the System has completed the backfile conversion of over 4,000,000 pages of microfiched member records that will be accessible on the staff's desktop computers. Not only will the imaging system be fully integrated with the Membership Record Keeping System, but we will have economically built a sophisticated foundation upon which future technology can be added.
These technological advancements will improve MSRSoperations and will enable MSRS to better serve its members, retirees, and employers.
This article was submitted by the Maine State Retirement System. For questions about this article, contact Bob Drury in the MSRS Communications Department at (207) 512-3179. For all other inquiries you may contact MSRS at (207) 512-3100 or toll-free (800) 451-9800.