SD20 - The Feasibility of Modernizing Land Records in Virginia

Executive Summary:
Senate Joint Resolution 338 of the 1995 Session directed the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) to conduct an analysis of the need, feasibility, costs, and advisability of modernizing land records in the Commonwealth. The study mandate also required that JLARC determine whether these records could be utilized in a statistic geographic information system. This report presents the JLARC staff finding and recommendations regarding the modernization of land records in Virginia.

The modernization of land records in the Commonwealth is feasible and would be beneficial. However, it will be a complex undertaking and, if done improperly, could be a very costly proposition. Current efforts to modernize land records are impeded by a lack of standards for the indexing, content, and automation of these records. Uniform standards would promote more efficient administration of land records and lay the groundwork for a reliable linkage of muti-jurisdictional land data. Therefore, if the General Assembly wants to proceed with efforts to modernize land records throughout intergovernmental task force would be useful in developing recommended statutory standards and encouraging a more coordinated and conceptually sound approach for the modernization of land records.

The State's current approach for funding modernization efforts is quite limited, and focuses primarily on providing office equipment to circuit court clerks. This source of finding may or may not be used by the clerks in support of land records modernization efforts. This report presents a number of potential funding options that the General Assembly could consider if it wishes to provide financial support for a comprehensive approach to modernizing land records throughout the Commonwealth. The options presented emphasize the importance of clearly defining legislative intent, and the need to carefully plan for the use of technology.