SUNBURY - Commissioner Stephen Bridy believes Northumberland County can save more than $1 million dollars and make government more efficient by replacing the computer system and allowing field workers in certain departments to work at home or from the road.

Bridy said an initial investment of $350,000 to $500,000 to install a virtualized private network of computers and purchase or lease laptops or iPads for field workers could save the county approximately $1.3 million annually.

He said state funding currently provided to certain departments, along with grants and general fund dollars, would be used to pay for the new software and Telework program.

"Our current computer system, including most of the servers is antiquated," he said this week. "The equipment should have been replaced eight years ago."

He said certain areas of county government have been identified as being inefficient.

"I believe there is a lot of wasted space and unnecessary equipment in some of our offices," he said.

Accountability of the work being done by employees outside the office would also increase. Telework software would track employees' work flow and their location so county officials know their workers are doing their jobs.

Bridy said he has been studying the computer system issue since attending the National Association of Counties Conference in Pittsburgh in July 2012.

"I've been looking for a software solution to move the county from the 20th century into the 21st century," he said.

He said Tyler Technologies has submitted a proposal to the county to reduce its current annual computer licensing fee of $30,000 and payroll software cost of $30,000 to a total of $10,000 per year.

To illustrate his claim of wasted space and equipment, Bridy said there are 43 employees at the county administration center, which encompasses 19,100 square feet. He said the county has 184 field workers in various departments including Children and Youth Services, adult and juvenile probation, Area Agency on Aging and Behavioral Health and Intellectual Services (formerly Mental Health/Mental Retardation).

He said it currently costs the county approximately $2,500 per field worker to provide them with a flat-screen computer monitor, cubicle or office space, telephone service, heat, air conditioning and lighting.

"The new digital imaging system would be paperless, seamless and secure, and would be used countywide for the budget, payroll, human resources and other departments," Bridy said. "Combined with establishing the Telework system, it would save us a lot of money in terms of paper, time, mileage, sick days and other ways, while increasing efficiency."

Bridy said Tyler Technologies, which has worked with many municipalities and Fortune 500 companies, gave a demonstration on the virtualized private network of computers to county officials last month.

The commissioner said he also plans to seek proposals from Microsoft, Apple and Blue River Technology.

Bridy said support from his fellow Commissioners Vinny Clausi and Richard Shoch, department heads, information technology director Jeff Fetterman and other employees is paramount in making his recommendation come to fruition.

"I've briefly mentioned my ideas to Mr. Clausi and Mr. Shoch and they seem to support them," he said. "Obviously, this is only a recommendation that needs to be studied further before a vote can be taken. I hope we can make a decision by August."