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  • Contra Costa County

How Contra Costa Brought Self-Service Efficiency to Records Requests

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The idea for change can often spark from unexpected places. For the Recorders Office in Contra Costa County, CA, change in their software system came when concerns about a previous company’s future made them re-evaluate a solution staff had used for approximately 25 years. Implementing Granicus solutions not only brought the team cutting-edge technology, it also created efficiencies for both staff and the public while opening new doors to improved service.

“We have complex functions that we do here, and there's just really no getting around that. So it's important to ensure our system is easy to use.”
Elizabeth Gutierrez, Assistant Clerk Recorder, Contra Costa County, CA


  • 200+ customers served per day
  • <10 min. average time to complete requests
  • 100-200 document requests processed per day
  • 200 visitors per day
Must have Granicus Solutions

A Change Decades in the Making

The role of the Clerk Recorder is almost as old as records themselves. Dealing with everything from birth, death, and marriage certificates to property records and fictitious business name requests, it’s an office that has touched many points of daily life throughout the years, with vast libraries of records to show for it.

For Elizabeth Gutierrez, Assistant Clerk Recorder for Contra Costa County, located in the Easy Bay of the San Francisco, CA, area, history didn’t just apply to records, it also was reflected in the tools and processes her staff used to deal with records requests.

“We had a previous system for approximately 20 to 25 years,” she said. “It was very outdated.”

In a region of the country known for frequent technological innovations, Contra Costa was using tools that were a step behind. Processes took over five minutes to run reports, Gutierrez recalled, and an entire back wall of the office’s lobby was dedicated to iPads and computer kiosks to take requests in a process that often led to crowded groups waiting their turn to submit forms.

Sparked by changes and concerns about their current software provider, the Contra Costa staff saw the opportunity to finally make a change, something that Gutierrez added none of them had ever done before.

“None of us were here when they did this last time,” she laughed. “It was 25 years since the last RFP, so we made sure our team did a really good job, being very detailed and liked what we were looking for when we decided on a solution.”

“We were doing a lot of manual processes. There were a lot of typewriters being used. We were very back in time. A lot of things were being handwritten, it was just a lot of non-electronic versions of everything. We definitely wanted a jump to the 21st century.”
Elizabeth Gutierrez, Assistant Clerk Recorder, Contra Costa County, CA

Reducing Tools, Creating Innovations

Contra Costa Clerk Recorder’s office chose Grancius’ govRecords management solution as their new software and instantly found both convenience and flexibility in the tool’s features as well as strong support from the Granicus development team.

Working together with the Granicus team, Gutierrez said that the Clerk Recorder’s office was able to efficiently move from six different software programs to using only govRecords to meet a variety of their needs.

“We had all of our different functions scattered across multiple applications, such as, a vital records application for searching and another application for tracking,” she said. “We would just have multiple different windows open for different tasks that we would do. Granicus combined everything and put it all in one.”

Understanding the diverse needs that her team faces in records requests, a variety of wizards helped save time when the public would apply for such things as marriage licenses and vital records, walking users through an easy step-by-step process to complete their request.

“Our old system was very clunky,” Gutierrez said. “These are all things that we didn’t have before, so it is very beneficial. It used to take five minutes for us to run a report, but Granicus is instantaneous. When we click to open up a report, it’s instant.”

Armed with this new flexibility, Gutierrez’s team also found the opportunity to innovate new procedures to help make requests even more efficient. Working with the Granicus team, Contra Costa implemented a QR code system to connect users directly with relevant pages for related document requests.

“That’s something that they can do when they get to the office,” Gutierrez added of the new convenience. “They can just scan with their mobile device, and complete their request from the comfort of their car before they come in.”

She added that recorded documents have a QR code that connects to the online index of their document to verify that the index is accurate.

“It’s something that I don’t think any other county has, honestly,” she said.


Changing Expectations of Government Experiences

While Gutierrez is quick to state that, by its nature, the Clerk Recorder’s office doesn’t have many repeat customers, the changes have already shown some responses, most notably, the public facing kiosks and the speed at which requests can be handled are getting the strongest feedback.

“People are always really excited about that, they can come to our office and are in and out in 10 minutes,” she said. “They’re expecting DMV wait times, and they do not experience that.”

Gutierrez estimates that the office sees over 100 requests from nearly 200 visitors per day, a number she only sees growing in the future. Having a system in place designed to make meeting customer needs easier, therefore, helps meet increasing demand while being dedicated to doing the best work possible.

“Public service is our number one priority,” she said. “And that means serving our public in the most efficient and accurate way. Having everything in one location and ease of use is big. We do have complex functions that we do here, and there’s just really no getting around that. So it’s important to ensure our system is easy to use.”