Nassau County Technology Blues – The Public Versus The Private Sector!

By | October 4, 2015

Nassau County, New York’s computer system upgrade and transition snags pose significant issues for real estate professionals!

Public Versus Private Sector

Before discussing the Nassau County-specific technology integration issue, imagine for a second that your private sector business began an upgrade and/or transition within its technology infrastructure and, for one reason or another, the project went horribly wrong ultimately impacting and affecting clients.

What would the result of that failure be? Unhappy customers leading to a loss of business of course! That means decreased revenues with the bottom-line income of the business being severely impaired.

Attempting to resolve the crisis management most likely can’t raise prices to pull itself out of the revenue hole, once loyal customers will undoubtedly head to a competitor, the technology people responsible for the failure will ultimately be fired as well as other employees who are not responsible but will feel the pain none-the-less in the company’s effort to cut costs.

In other words an inability to transact satisfactorily for clients could result in a private sector business entering into a death spiral that ultimately puts it out of business.

On-the-other-hand, when observing the public sector in action what do we typically see happening when screw-ups occur (i.e. the implementation and rollout of the Obamacare website comes to mind)?

From observation it seems that no one is held responsible, taxes or fees can be raised to cover any revenue shortfall and the ‘client base’, held captive because there are no alternatives, must suffer through it all!

So how can one differentiate between private sector and public sector operations? Accountability versus no accountability!

The Nassau County Computer Upgrade

Original report courtesy of the New York State Land Title Association

The Title Agent’s Dilemma

The failure of the computer system upgrade and transition in the Nassau County Clerks’ Office is a problem with far-reaching impact and uncertain consequences.

The primary point of contact is the Examiners who are hired by title agents and direct operations. It confounds the title agent, increases the risk for underwriters and delivers it punch to the real estate attorneys and their clients.

The title industry needs certifiable information to function.

  • How do you close deals in this environment?
  • What records are going online?
  • What are the costs we need to know to run our businesses

Attorneys look to Agents to solve problems. Agents are looking to Underwriters for direction.

The situation is complex.

There is an acute problem – the title industry for Nassau is being compressed into 15 minute increments on three computer terminals in Mineola. The delay in processing orders and the potential for error in transactions cannot be calculated at this time.

This problem is beyond the scope of real estate finance professionals – the Realtors, the Lenders, the Bar Association, the Title insurance Corporations and the Title Insurance Agents. The solution rests wholly with the technology vendor and the management of the Clerks’ Office in Nassau County.

However there is a chronic problem and that is a history of difficulties with the Office of the Nassau County Clerk. This is a history of non-communication with its professional constituencies, poorly allocated resources, inadequate training, and policies inimical to a success working partnership with the profession.

This problem can only be addressed by concerted response and action from the real estate finance industry – specifically the Real Property Bar and the Title Insurance Underwriters.

This is the inevitable conclusion of lack of progress from numerous meetings, conversations and phone calls between Examiners, Agents and the County Clerk.

The title agents and direct operations find themselves in the middle between their clients – the attorneys who initiate the transaction – and the Underwriter Corporations who ultimately assume the risk of insuring those transactions.

Have The Nassau County Computer Issues Been Rectified?

The Latest News Courtesy Of The New York State Land Title Association

A senior staff member of Nassau County Clerk O’Connell called at 9 AM Saturday morning to respond to the previous blog posted here on Friday. 

As this was a weekend phone call – I cannot get the following report fact-checked by the Clerk’s office until next week.

This report is from my notes of this morning’s phone call. Any errors or misstatements will be corrected as soon as we are advised of them.

I explained my previous reports came from Examiners on site and were corroborated by Agents and an Direct operations Underwriter.

Well – it looks like the tech team from Xerox is not happy with us and they feel disparaged by the things said about the situation in Nassau county.  A blind man can see we are not popular with the Nassau County Clerk.

Here is what I learned on this morning’s phone call: 

1 – The new system (Xerox) is fully functional and the index can be accessed without charge from a bank of 20 computers on-site.  This went online at 11 AM Thursday

2 – The data in the Xerox system (1992-2015) is correct and reliable. He says there is no data gap July 1- Sept 30, 2015.  Any problem with gaps is due to training issues.

3 – The Xerox system can print specific pages. However he does admit that users must pay $2/page to view or download and unless one views an entire document, you can’t know what page you want to print. 

4 – A training packet was distributed last Thursday. A copy will be sent to me next week.

5 – 10 computers are available for public use to access the old system (Browntech). Three are connected to printers “behind the counter”. The statutory fee they charge is 65-cents/page.  

6 – The Browntech system required Examiners to purchase payment cards for printing. These cards will be obsolete in a matter of days or weeks.

7 – The bottleneck is being caused by Examiners who are trying to “deplete the value” on their old Browntech cards and the ‘Examiners do not trust the data in the new system.

I was told Clerk O’Connell does not want to make any statement until everything is up and running smoothly. I explained that it is when things are NOT running smoothly that people need to have information and an official statement. 

We disagreed on the better approach to communications  and crisis management. (They deny there is a crisis.)

I explained that the LTA has tried for years to establish formal communications with the Clerk’s office and we have always been rebuffed. 

I reiterated our offer to assist the Nassau County Clerk in disseminating information to the industry and facilitating the use of the Clerk’s services.

Great efforts have been taken to acknowledge that these reports are based on 2nd hand information and we have made frequent requests to the Clerk’s Office for comment.  

I appreciate the diligence of the gentleman who took personal time away from his family to call me.  Maybe there is hope we can build some bridges.

We will maintain our monitoring of the situation!

Michael Haltman is President of Hallmark Abstract Service in New York. He can be reached at mhaltman@HallmarkAbstractLLC.com

2 thoughts on “Nassau County Technology Blues – The Public Versus The Private Sector!

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