The Georgia Appraisal Program (GAP), a Computer Assisted Mass Appraisal (CAMA) system, began back in 1988 when TVA approached the Georgia Department of Revenue (DOR) with the idea of developing a computer system to be utilized in the North Georgia counties under TVA’s purview.
At that time the State had been using the Basic Appraisal System (BAS), which ran on a mainframe — a room-size computer with punch cards. TVA sought an upgrade to a program that could run on PCs, which were becoming more common in county assessors’ offices.
They brought in Wallace Killcreas, a computer programmer from Mississippi, to get GAP up and running. Gregg Reese, who had worked with BAS, first in Warren County and then for DOR, was named GAP administrator for DOR.
By the early 1990s, GAP had been adopted in around 10 counties. The program began to evolve with the addition of modules to account for conservation use and some of the specialty exemptions introduced by the legislature.
“Counties began to recognize it as a viable CAMA option that was here to stay,” Gregg explained. “Back then the cost was $500 per year, and as more counties started using it, word spread.”
Once the number of GAP counties reached 20, the revenue commissioner assigned digest agents to help administer the CAMA application. Then DOR agents Tracy Thomas, Kenny Colson, and Grant Hilton took on additional responsibilities to assist Gregg with the growing program.
“That was back during the DOS days,” Gregg remembered, “and we rolled along until 2001, when we decided it was time to move forward into the Windows world.”
Organizing Gap Group
When the GAP roster rose to around 25 counties, Bill Stewart, then chief appraiser in Crisp County, spearheaded the formation of the nonprofit Gap Group Inc. “He used the old saying, ‘There’s strength in numbers,’” Gregg remembered. Bill, along with Jimmy Lockerman, and Russell Johnson were among the folks who helped launch Gap Group.
The organization played a major role in GAP’s subsequent growth. “It brought the users together so they could communicate about the system and feel like they were a part of it,” Gregg explained. Increasing membership gave the organization the ability to move the system forward. “Gap Group is an extremely well run group of folks,” he added.
Migrating to Windows
By the early 2000s, Microsoft Windows was replacing DOS, allowing users to interface with the computer through easy-to-use icons, menus, and toolbars rather than typing in complex commands for every process. So Gregg and his team undertook the major transition, switching GAP over to Windows — even changing the name from GAP to WinGAP. The new WinGAP system came with the user-friendly Windows interface as well as the ability to run multiple instances of the application at one time.
The back end changed over time as well, moving from a dBase product to FoxPro. Eventually larger counties came on board, requiring a migration to a SQL database to handle the increase in data.
Gregg continued in his function as the administrator of the operation, which eventually included designing courses to acquaint the users with the operations of WinGAP. “It just took off from there,” Gregg said. “We went from 25 or 30 counties up to the 145+ currently using the system.”
When he retired from DOR in 2012, Gregg turned the administrator role over to Tracy Thomas, who retired a few years later, and both now serve in consulting roles for WinGAP.