Brian Peteritas is a GOVERNING contributor.E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
After a tornado devastated Kentucky leaving 21 counties designated as federal disaster areas, State Treasurer Todd Hollenbach wanted to find a way for his agency to help the victims. Since his office is charged with managing and returning unclaimed property they determined that finding a faster way to return 26 million that rightfully belonged to residents of the affected counties would be a great start. An existing program called Treasure Finders, which used local officials and community, volunteers to find the rightful owners, was already in place, but speed was critical. They turned to LexisNexis, a technology database company. The company agreed to allow the state to use the software free of charge to help match the unclaimed property up with the rightful owners who could use the money to help rebuild their lives and homes. In one week more than 300 checks were distributed to the rightful owners, and the state has experienced a 95 percent accuracy rate in finding current addresses of claimants. LexisNexis told Governing that six other states have begun to use the technology in a similar manner but declined to identify those users.