Path to a Perfect Probation Audit

July 09, 2020 by Meredith Trimble

Path to a Perfect Probation Audit

Many agencies across the country still operate on decades-old mainframe systems. While these serve as passable repositories for information, their lack of case tracking and reporting capabilities make day-to-day operations for probation offices and courts more difficult than need be.

Legacy System Pitfalls

Bibb County Probation in Macon, Georgia, for example, experienced burdensome delays in finding and compiling accurate case information for reports with its legacy system. It often took a week for staff to sort through data for required quarterly reports to the state. New hurdles came in 2015, with a city-county consolidation that brought two new courts and an additional 1,000 cases to Bibb Probation. This growth revealed scalability issues with the legacy system as well as its limited case management capabilities. Audits also posed problems. The probation office typically needed deadline extensions to compile audit information for its overseeing agency, and the information was not always accurate. This resulted in unfavorable audit outcomes for several years.

Clean Data and Easy Reporting

To accurately manage a new volume of case files and to provide clean data for reports and audits, Bibb County Probation implemented Tyler Supervision, a modern, budget-friendly case management system that could manage multiple courts, distinguish cases by type – including active, diversion, and warrant – and be scalable enough to handle larger caseloads. The new system also provided easy-to-use reporting tools for better compliance with state quarterly reports and audit data.

Bibb County’s new probation case management system was not only user friendly for the staff, it enabled them to better track offender compliance and noncompliance. For example, each probation officer used to track community service hours manually in a spreadsheet. The new system eliminated those spreadsheets and countless inefficiencies with automated tracking. It also provided supervisors with dashboards and other tools to automate the process of generating cases to the case file review. This increased productivity from one case review per day to 10.

A Perfect Audit

Efficiency is apparent everywhere. The week it used to take to prepare quarterly state reports has been reduced to just 20 minutes. Instead of asking for audit extensions due to manual research and non-centralized data, the new system accelerated reporting time. Staff turned around an audit request for 150 cases in about 20 minutes. “The system allows me to simply drag and drop files for the auditor and hit send,” noted Amy Hartley, chief probation officer. What’s more, the accuracy of the reports was such that no on-site follow-up was necessary, and the overseeing agency awarded the office a perfect audit with no findings – a first for Bibb County Probation.

This success earned Bibb County Probation an honorable mention in the 2020 Tyler Excellence Awards for innovation in a way that can easily be repeated and scaled by other agencies nationwide. Looking ahead, the office intends to leverage its new systems’ flexibility to add new case types and track the separate caseload data points that relate to domestic violence.

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