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Modified: April 8, 2019 9:04am
Created: April 8, 2019 9:04am

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April 8, 2019

Environmental friendly reform strengthens efficiencies across the county as stacks of thousands of paper invoices soon to be thing of the past

Erie County Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. launched an environmental friendly pilot program with three key county departments to modernize how the county’s 50,000 annual invoices are processed. The Comptroller’s Accounts Payable division, under the leadership of Comptroller Mychajliw and led by Cheryl Mekarski, is being completely revamped for the first time in 30 years. It has been transformed into a modern, paperless process utilizing both SAP, the County’s Enterprise Resource Planning system and OnBase Document Management system software. The new procedure eliminates a burdensome and costly paper system and replaces it with a permanent electronic file storage and record system.

“My environmental friendly reform takes the county from the Stone Age to the Information Age. We are getting rid of paper and embracing technology. The world changed. The way the government conducts business must change. We have completely overhauled, streamlined and improved our workflow. By doing so we eliminated numerous inefficiencies. The private sector is doing this. Government should do the same.”

“Before my reform initiative, taxpayer dollars were wasted on an inefficient, 20-step process just to pay a bill. My Paperless AP Project streamlined it into a few quick steps. Our goal is to create a paperless accounts payable program. The current, archaic invoice process requires numerous steps before a bill is processed and paid. When I asked why this wasteful process is still in place, I was told ‘because that’s the way it’s always been done.’ That is not acceptable to me. We are working collaboratively with my office, the District Attorney’s Office and Senior Services in this pilot program. I want to thank my team and Erie County’s IT Department for working diligently to launch this project,” said Comptroller Mychajliw.

Through this green initiative, all invoices will be sent electronically to the Comptroller’s Office through a secure system utilizing the county’s scanning network. Prior to this reform initiative, departments mailed or hand delivered paper copies of invoices. Once manually placed into the system, the Comptroller’s Office was required to keep each invoice on file for six years. Not only did this utilize an excessive amount of physical space for paper, it was also time consuming to locate a specific invoice. By uploading and coding each invoice into the online document management system, searching for specific invoices will be virtually instantaneous.

“Unfortunately, the size of Erie County government is massive. We provide a number of services that require close to 50,000 invoices each year. My paperless reform initiative saves time, paper and costs. With the first few weeks underway, I am pleased with the seamless transition. Our office looks forward to getting every county department up and running soon,” added Comptroller Mychajliw.

Comptroller Mychajliw thanked the District Attorney’s Office and Senior Services Department for its cooperation in the pilot phase of the Paperless AP Project. After going through extensive testing, the program recently went live to ensure invoices were being received and processed properly. A full launch of the Paperless AP Project will happen in the coming weeks, with each individual department going through training.

The Comptroller spoke at one of the training sessions, outlining the various issues that this new process will resolve. For one, it will greatly reduce delays in payments being made by eliminating the number of “stops” the paper invoices make. It will also solve the problem of invoices lost in transport. In the past, vendors would call the Comptroller’s AP Department looking for the status of an invoice. The AP staff can now look into the SAP computer database and know that an invoice has either been processed, is in the queue for processing, or is still sitting on a departmental desk.

“Government operations are rarely innovators when it comes to implementing modern technology. Too many factors make it hard for government to change, but change is what government needs. It creates efficiency, reenergizes employees, and ultimately saves taxpayers money. I am proud of the work my team did here, and more proud that change can happen, even in government,” concluded Comptroller Mychajliw