New Delaware Corporations website experiencing snags

Delaware's Division of Corporations’ website has a variety of services available.

Delaware’s Division of Corporations’ website has a variety of services available.

DOVER — The Division of Corporations launched a website seven months ago for companies wanting to incorporate in Delaware.

However, the overhaul has apparently experienced some bumps in the road.

While incorporation services aren’t of much relevance for average Delawareans, they are important for the state.

The services bring in significant revenue that gives Delaware a reputation that belies its small size.

A popular locale for many companies due to its friendly laws and experienced Court of Chancery, Delaware is the legal home to more than 1.1 million active businesses. The state also derives a significant portion of its budget from the franchise tax.

In September, the division revamped its corporate franchise registration site for the first time since 1989. The revamp provided changes a department spokesman said were desperately needed. The bill was paid for by fees from companies seeking immediate service.

After instituting compulsory overtime in July and August to prepare for launch and moving all records — including those that date back to 1899 — the agency shut down over Labor Day weekend to update the site.

In the post-launch period, the new website has experienced some kinks that have needed to be straightened out. Both those who use the site from the government side and those who do so as customers are still dealing with issues that can slow progress and require adjustment, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Rick Geisenberger said.

“When you have a new system it doesn’t always work exactly as you hoped,” Mr. Geisenberger said.

He acknowledged there have been limitations but largely downplayed them. He noted “no IT project is problem-free 100 percent.”

Users still are getting used to information being presented differently, such as an altered search function, he said. Some aspects of it are generally seen as an improvement, he said, while others require more time before they are accepted.

Due to snags with the updated system, the division implemented mandatory overtime last year. That was particularly important as the calendar turned to December, the busiest month for incorporation.

Employees were required to work two Saturdays in a month. But overtime has been voluntary since early January.

Some of the overtime was required to fill requests from businesses wanting expedited services. Companies that file for incorporation can do so normally or, for an added fee, can request the work be done sooner, ranging from within one hour to by the next business day.

The need for overtime was amplified by a rapidly increasing level of activity, which grew in every quarter last year. The division has had about 110 employees for several years, while the demand for services is expanding.

“We’re all trying to figure how to do more with less and be more efficient,” Mr. Geisenberger said.

In addition to mergers, dissolutions and cancellations, the state hosted 179,000 business formations in 2015, according to Mr. Geisenberger.

Ms. Geisenberger estimated fees for quick service tripled the amount paid in overtime.

Formation was down 4 percent in January and February, but, Mr. Geisenberger noted, “two months does not a trend make.”

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or mbittle@newszap.com. Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.

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