News Item
Minnesota Court Payment Center Recognized as 2017 Harvard Ash Center Bright Idea in Government

Posted: Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, recognized today the Minnesota Court Payment Center (CPC) as part of the 2017 Bright Ideas in Government initiative. The CPC is part of a cohort that includes programs from all levels of government — school districts, counties, cities, states, federal agencies, and tribal nations, as well as public-private partnerships — that represent the next horizon in government work to improve services, solve problems, and work on behalf of citizens.
“These programs demonstrate that there are no prerequisites for doing the good work of governing,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center. “Small towns and massive cities, huge federal agencies and local school districts, large budgets or no budgets at all — what makes government work best is the drive to do better, and this group proves that drive can be found anywhere.”
The establishment of the Minnesota CPC was a multi-year initiative aimed at centralizing the processing of payable citations and traffic tickets – those not requiring a court appearance – from case initiation through case disposition, for all 87 counties in Minnesota. The goal of this initiative was to increase efficiency by centralizing work that had been done separately by 87 district courts, while providing a convenient, one-stop resource for members of the public to pay fines online, by phone, or through the mail, and to speak with a clerk about their citations.
The CPC was first established in late 2009, and by June 2011 the program was managing citation processing and payments for district courts in 85 of the state’s 87 counties. An evaluation completed in 2013 showed the CPC had reduced the payables case processing workload in those 85 counties, and that centralization had helped reduce the statewide number of Judicial Branch staff working on payables processing. The Minnesota Judicial Branch transferred Ramsey County citations processing to the CPC in July 2015, and Hennepin County citations on January 25, 2016, completing the statewide transition. In 2016, Minnesota CPC staff processed more than 930,000 citations and $90 million in receipts.
“The Court Payment Center has made it faster and easier for the public to complete their business with the court, and created significant new efficiencies in our judicial system,” said State Court Administrator Jeff Shorba. “This project represents just one way that the Judicial Branch is working to leverage new technologies to improve our service to the public, and we are honored to receive this recognition from the Ash Center and Harvard University.”
This is the fifth cohort recognized through the Bright Ideas program, an initiative of the broader Innovations in American Government Awards program. For consideration as a Bright Idea, programs must currently be in operation or in the process of launching, have sufficient operational resources, and must be administered by one or more governmental entities; nonprofit, private sector, and union initiatives are eligible if operating in partnership with a governmental organization. Bright Ideas are showcased on the Ash Center’s Government Innovators Network, an online platform for practitioners and policymakers to share innovative public policy solutions.
Please visit the Government Innovators Network for the full list of Bright Ideas programs, and for more information regarding the Innovations in American Government Awards.