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Thanks to Hamer Enterprises, long lines are not allowed in tough-thinking Travis County, Texas

ISV Case Study: IBM and Hamer solution benefits county, voters and taxpayers

Travis County Tax officials sought tax and voter registration solutions that would streamline workflow and enable staff to manage increasing county growth more effectively. IBM and Hamer provided those solutions.

Challenge: The tax collection and voter registration systems in the Travis County, Texas, Tax Office were slow enough that long lines were the norm, not the exception. County executives had to streamline these systems and become more responsive to their citizens
Solution: Travis County Tax Office management chose property tax and fees payment, voter registration, and Court Alternatives solutions from IBM Business Partner Hamer Enterprises. IBM components of the solutions include IBM WebSphere® Application Server, IBM DB2® Universal DatabaseT and IBM eServer iSeries® and xSeries® systems

Key Benefits

  • Ad hoc reports are available as needed to programmers and non-programmers alike
  • Thanks to scalable solutions, the tax officials can now meet current citizen needs in real time while anticipating future needs
  • Productivity gains and cost savings: County tax workers have improved services to citizens without increasing staff; staying with the legacy systems would have meant a 25% increase in headcount

Single county office, multiple roles and responsibilities
The Travis County Tax Office manages the billing and collection of local property taxes, registering voters, maintaining the local voter database, and registering/titling county motor vehicles. By way of perspective, in 1994 the county collected $571,000 in taxes; in 2003 that figure jumped to $1.4 billion.

"Our previous IT system relied on programmers generating reports and making software changes," said Dusty Knight, chief deputy of Travis County's tax office. "That environment didn't help us deliver tax and voting information to our constituents. What we needed were responsive solutions that could help us improve the way we conducted our daily business so we could reach our goal of providing timely support of our citizens and taxpayers."

Needing more automated tax and voter registration systems than the vintage legacy systems could provide, county executives reviewed a proposal from IBM Business Partner Hamer Enterprises to modernize these systems. The proposal, which the tax office accepted, provided (1) both tax and voting systems from a single vendor, (2) additional functionality that first and foremost represented real-time services to county citizens, and (3) system scalability that could accommodate population and services growth, all the while meeting county price requirements. Further, the Hamer solutions could be delivered in the timeframe specified by the county.

IBM and Hamer solutions at Travis County
First established as a commercial and personal accounting and consultant business, Hamer Enterprises of McAllen, Texas, has evolved considerably during the past 25 years. Today, Hamer is a provider of system services, from analyzing application and communications needs through developing and implementing network computing and communications hardware and software systems. Hamer is focused primarily on the state and local government market. Two of Hamer's three divisions-Texas Logic, Inc. and Easy Access, Inc.- provide the tax, court cost fees and voter solutions used by Travis County.

eVote provides advanced tools for voter registration and elections. The tools track, monitor, notify and report registered voter status. The system, one of the first of its kind in the country, uses IBM WebSphere® and IBM DB2® Universal DatabaseT linked with a geographic information system that locates each voter by street address. Within seconds of swiping the magnetic stripe on the back of the voter's driver's license, the voter is qualified.

"Previously," said Knight, "voters would have to wait anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes in line to have their registration verified. Now there are no lines. The new system is a complete automation of the registration process."

eNetPay is also based on IBM WebSphere and IBM DB2 Universal Database. In use by the county is the Court Cost Distribution Subsytem, a fully integrated Internet payment processing system for online payment of court costs, fees, fines and restitution collections and distribution of these fees for the county. A similar system, eTax, manages the tracking and payment of county taxes.

Specific IBM middleware components working in conjunction with Hamer solutions for the tax office are IBM WebSphere Application Server, WebSphere Studio Application Developer, IBM DB2 Universal Database, JavaT and IBM DataPropagatorT.

Hardware components are IBM eServer iSeriesT, eServer xSeries® and IBM HTTP Server. The HTTP Server is bundled with IBM WebSphere and is used to handle citizens' requests via WebSphere. The eServer xSeries is used to meet business critical demands of Travis County citizens for the delivery of enterprise, e-commerce and database applications through WebSphere.

IBM components of the Hamer solutions for Travis County


* IBM eServer iSeries and xSeries systems
* IBM HTTP server


* IBM WebSphere Application Server
* IBM DB2 Universal Database
* Java
* IBM DataPropagator

Benefits at every turn
According to Knight, the benefits of the IBM and Hamer solution include, but certainly are not limited to:

  • Integration: Back office services merge seamlessly via Web-based technologies with remote candidate and voter services
  • Real-time capabilities: Ad hoc reports are quickly accessible by all staff members in various formats using universally accepted browsers
  • Simplicity: Changes to the tax and voter systems are easily made
  • Productivity: The tax office can use the systems and application software to accomplish more without increasing staff. To do the same with the legacy systems would have required an estimated 25 percent increase in headcount
  • Scalability: Providing a high-level of consistent service to county citizens was the goal. That's been met, and so has the goal of preparing the tax office for future needs and demands.

"Our support from Hamer continues to exceed our expectations," said Knight. And our support from IBM is also extremely beneficial. Recently, we upgraded our operating system after hours. With IBM's help, we avoided any downtime.

"We look forward to our continued working relationship with IBM and Hamer Enterprises, as well as the continuation of the exemplary support we have received from both."

That commitment, however, is only part of the story

Hamer is a member of the Powered by WebSphere program, whose mark signifies that a Hamer solution is using IBM WebSphere, helping communicate the value WebSphere brings to an e-business solution.

In addition, Hamer, an Advanced member of IBM PartnerWorld® for Developers, recently opted to participate in the new IBM PartnerWorld for Industry Networks, Web-based communities that integrate and organize the PartnerWorld experience for ISVs by industry. The initiative offers Independent Software Vendors industry expertise, technical assistance, networking opportunities, and marketing and sales support. Hamer is participating in the Industry Network for government. Other networks now available include banking, financial services, retail, health care/life sciences, insurance and telecommunications, with more to come.

"We believe the Industry Networks initiative will give Hamer Enterprises a springboard to grow our marketshare," Hamer concluded.

For more information about Travis County, visit: http://www.co.travis.tx.us/

For more information about Hamer Enterprises, visit: http://www.hecorp.com

©Copyright IBM Corporation 2004 IBM Corporation 8051 Congress Avenue Boca Raton, Florida 33487 Printed in the United States of America 08-04 All Rights Reserved All Rights Reserved IBM, the IBM Logo, DataPropagator, DB2, DB2 Universal Database, e(logo)Server, eServer, iSeries, PartnerWorld, WebSphere and xSeries are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries or both.

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