January 12, 1999
F. Barry Wilkes
Clerk of Courts
New Year Brings On-line, Statewide Real Estate Information System
Electronic access to Georgia's real estate records is now available by way of the World Wide Web.
On January 1, 1999, clerks of the superior courts throughout Georgia began transmitting real estate index information to the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority
(GSCCCA), in Atlanta. Currently, access to the new statewide real estate information system is available on the Internet at www.gsccca.org/search/UCC_Search/default.asp
, according to Barry Wilkes
, Clerk and Court Administrator of the Superior Court of Liberty County and former interim executive director of GSCCCA.
"This is a project that has been in the making for several years," Wilkes said. "We (superior court clerks) have supported the idea from the onset. The authority was created for such purposes. When other superior court clerks and I met with (former) State Representative Tommy Chambliss (former chairperson of the House Judiciary Committee from Albany) in 1993 to discuss the prospects of superior court clerks implementing a statewide Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) information system, he envisioned, no, he insisted, we would one day have a statewide real estate information system in Georgia. He said he wanted to be able to sit in his office in Albany and conduct a search of the deed indexes of any county in this state. The new system will enable him and anyone else in the world to do so. The statewide information system mirrors every clerk's local electronic deed indexing system; so, the only limitation of the statewide system is, if and when there are delays locally in posting index information, the statewide system will not be current."
Wilkes said former state representative Jimmy Floyd, of Hinesville, who served on the House banking committee, was "primarily responsible for creating the authority. He recognized the need for establishing a state entity for development of systems for automating records vital to our state's commerce. As always, he was a visionary who saw the long-range benefits of the use of technology for solving problems that affect businesses," Wilkes said.
Unlike the statewide Uniform Commercial Code (UCC)
information system implemented by GSCCA in 1995, the statewide real estate information system provides actual data from real estate indexes created electronically in each superior court clerk's office. "What you see is on file in the local office of the clerk of superior court," Wilkes explained. Georgia laws enacted in 1996 require clerks of the superior courts to provide the information to GSCCA, the state entity statutorily responsible for establishing and running the new deed information system. The superior court clerk of each county of the state is the official recorder and custodian of real estate and personal property records.
According to Wilkes, he and other superior court clerks throughout the state support the new system. "Superior court clerks have collectively supported the project from the onset. For the most part, (clerks) are some of the most technologically progressive elected officials in the state. We realize that government agencies can no longer conduct business the way we did twenty years ago. We are already at the forefront of the information age and plan to stay out front," he said.
The Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority uses revenues generated from the statewide real estate and uniform commercial code projects for operation of the two systems. Wilkes said, however, that the 159 superior court clerks' offices have benefited from their participation in both projects. He explained, "The Authority has provided grants to clerks of superior court, helping us purchase hardware and software that would not have been available to us locally. Recently, I received a grant from the authority for computers that amounted to an almost $40,000 boon for my office and the taxpayers of Liberty County. The authority does not require any tax dollars for projects, earning its way from revenues produced from user fees. By reinvesting in clerks' offices, the authority is enabling us to provide our constituents and the general public at large more and better information, information that is in electronic format. Through partnering, we are incrementally moving our records on-line. This can only benefit everyone, individuals and companies, who have a need for information which, in turn, helps improve commerce throughout the state."
In 1997, the Georgia General Assembly enacted legislation designating GSCCCA the official state agency for administering notary public records
. Superior court clerks are the only public officials in Georgia authorized by law to commission notaries public. GSCCA tentatively plans to provide an on-line register of notaries. "There are also plans to provide Internet access to UCC and notary public records," Wilkes said.