Modernization of Client Service Delivery (MCSD) at The Connecticut Department of Social Services
The Changing Landscape • We have significant challenges in staffing, technology, and physical plant. • We are helping more and more people every day. • Programs are increasingly complex. • Our challenges create barriers to efficient and effective service to Connecticut residents.
Applications On The Rise Over 23%2009 gain over 2007 Over 12%2009 gain over 2008 Application Activity 2007 - 2009
Need In CT Is Increasing Average Annual Recipients 2007 - 2009
Comparing Staffing Levels to Activity Monthly Comparison of Active ‘Assistance Units’ and Application Activity to Eligibility Staff
Technology is Our BIGGEST Challenge • The technology infrastructure is non-existent. • Phone systems cannot manage the volume of calls. • Each phone system is different in our 13 offices. • There is limited storage for voicemails.
Technology is Our BIGGEST Challenge • Virtually no capability to electronically manage documents. • Reporting capabilities are severely limited and restrict the production of reports for analysis. • The Eligibility Management System (EMS) is obsolete • EMS is the primary tool for the determination and maintenance of ongoing eligibility.
EMS Has Challenges • The Eligibility Management System • Mainframe system initially developed in the 1980s consisting of 217 data bases, 3,419 programs, 428 screens and over 9.1 million lines of COBOL program code; and • Requires production staff on duty 24-hours a day to support the on-line system and the extensive batch processing conducted nights and on weekends.
EMS Has Challenges • The system determines eligibility and issues notices and benefits to approximately 389,000 assistance units and 653,000 clients each month; • Receives information entered on-line from over 1,500 terminals in 12 DSS regional offices across the state; and • Exchanges and matches data through interfaces with other state and federal agencies, as well as with towns, banks, insurance companies, and other entities to ensure the accuracy of information contained in the client and assistance unit database.
EMS Has Challenges Each programmatic change requires an extraordinary amount of ITS staff resources to implement modifications, create notices and support new eligibility processes.
EMS Has Challenges - Example • Program policy was modified that required a wording change and inclusion of a variable data element on one of the EMS notices. • Modify the eligibility module with the new data element to be passed to the nightly notice process. • Modify the notice linkage area layout (data passing area) to include the new element. • Rebuild all eligibility programs that access the notice linkage area.
EMS Has Challenges – Example (cont.) • Modify the nightly notice process to extract the new element from the notice linkage section. • Rebuild all notice programs that use the notice linkage area . • Modify the notice to include the new data element and to display the new text.
EMS Has Challenges – Example (cont.) • The notice text needed to be re-formatted (re-built) from the point of the first change to the end of the notice. • This is required due to the notice module does not have automatic formatting similar to MS-Word. All notices are built character by character using a COBOL program. • The change would have been more time consuming if a different font or bolding was requested. This would be a simple change using current development tools however it took over a month to implement in EMS.
EMS Has Challenges • New programs or expanded eligibility has been contracted out because EMS cannot be programmed to manage the complexity of the eligibility criteria. • HUSKY B, Charter Oak, Care4Kids • There are 500 change requests in the queue for EMS.
EMS Has Challenges • Utilize workarounds in EMS to implement program changes. • Work-arounds are processes designed to circumvent the computer system allowing for manual work procedures. • Requires reprogramming of EMS for implementation of any program policy or procedural changes.
EMS Has Challenges • Work-arounds are labor intensive for the eligibility determination process, create complexity and inefficiency. • Jeopardizes program integrity which may lead to significant federal penalties. • Case in point in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) – SNAP has undergone significant changes in the last 5 years.
EMS Has Challenges • DSS has been unable to make changes in EMS to make eligibility management of the SNAP program less demanding. • As a result, SNAP eligibility is labor intensive and cumbersome. • The Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) tracks error rates for the states and monetarily penalizes those that are out of compliance with federally set targets for program administration.
EMS Has Challenges • CT is currently ranked 52 of 53 states and territories for its error rate. We are in danger of receiving a significant federal penalty of up to $10 million dollars per year. A more flexible eligibility management system that could be programmed more easily would allow for the implementation of system supports to simplify eligibility processing and subsequently reduce the error rate.
EMS Has Challenges • Eligibility processing is cumbersome and EMS has been called “rigid” (LPRIC, 2004). • The system negatively affects the efficiency of business operations daily. • The greatest impact is to the residents of Connecticut that need access to the services DSS provides.
EMS Has Challenges • In the Malloy/Wyman Transition Team - Final Report of The Policy Committee there is reference to the Social Safety Net and access to the very services DSS provides, it states “Access to services that respond to basic human needs must remain available to Connecticut's most vulnerable residents, even during difficult economic times” (Kelly and McGee, 2011). • One of the greatest tests of DSS’s ability to provide that access has been EMS.
Why Modernize The mounting demands and increased expectations could not be addressed with our current systems. There Was Little Choice
Why Modernize? • Currently, DSS does not have the staffing and sophisticated technology to best serve the residents of Connecticut. • Our systems and programs are complex and made more difficult by the patchwork of technology and a dated business model. • Legislators, advocates, providers, federal partners, other human service partners and, most of all, the people in the communities we serve, share our belief that we can do better with new technology.
Why Modernize? • The Raymond Settlement • In 2007 DSS settled a class action lawsuit. • Class action law suit filed by CT Legal Services organizations on behalf of persons with physical and mental disabilities. • Brought about as result of 2003 layoffs and office closings. • Advocates claimed inadequate accommodations available for persons with disabilities to access DSS programs. • The eligibility processes were specifically named.
Why Modernize? • The Raymond vs. Rowland settlement agreement created groundwork for a new infrastructure supported by cutting-edge technology that will revolutionize our client service delivery system through Universal Design. • Universal Design includes a broad-spectrum of solutions that create environments that are usable and effective for everyone, including people with disabilities. • Universal Design • Impacts the Physical, Communication, and Information environments of DSS. • To insure that the people we serve and in particular people with disabilities (cognitive and physical) are able to successfully interact with our systems.
Why Modernize? • In Order To Successfully Implement Universal Design For • Improved Client Access • Better Quality Outcomes • Enhanced Customer Service • Cost Reduction • Create a Technological Framework for the Future Modernization Is Critical
We Have To Do Better • We recognize and acknowledge • Limited access/entry points • Outdated facilities…costly facility storage • Inadequate phone systems • Dated business model • In need of technology • Limited staffing • Lack of ease for community partners to assist in client services
We Have To Do Better • We looked at what was working successfully in other states • Visited FL facilities and reviewed the operations • Spoke in depth with officials from other states that have implemented • PA, MA, WI, CA • Held and continue to hold focus groups across CT • Staff at all levels of DSS are involved in workgroups for implementation Modernization is a comprehensive response to the issues we face and provides a framework for expansion
It’s Time For Modernization • It’s time to make changes to our business model and utilize the technology available to support positive change. • Modernization will streamline our business processes and as it does, your agencies and clients will gain • Quicker response time • Ability to self-serve • Access
Modernization of Client Service Delivery (MCSD ) • Initiated in September of 2008. • Capitalizes on new technology, Raymond Settlement funding and best practices from other states. • Does not replace EMS but creates the framework to do so eventually.
Modernization of Client Service Delivery • Currently in the design phase. • Negotiating terms and conditions with vendor. • 21 month implementation timeline (once contract is finalized). • What exactly will MCSD do?
Doc Imaging Process Center Service Center IVR Benefits Center Dedicated Units Web Front-End Modernization of Client Service Delivery DSS Services Community Partners Community Partners
Modernization – Meeting the Challenge Document Management Paper, Paper, Paper
Meeting the Challenge– Document Management • Document Management will simplify access to documents through the use of scanning and indexing. • Paper documents and other files will be sent to a central repository for scanning and DSS staff will be able to access documents almost immediately from their desktop computer.
Meeting the Challenge– Document Management • Document management will also allow for the implementation of workflow. • Documents will be scanned and indexed to a person’s case. • Once a document is received, an electronic work order is created, the work is assigned to a DSS staff person through the use of technology, the DSS staff process the application, redetermination, or change.
Meeting the Challenge– Document Management • A Document Management System will process the approximately 3.7 million pages per month (44 million pages per year) – our current volume. • Document management will eliminate wasted time for workers searching for paper and clients replacing lost documents. • We will be able to access information the moment we need it, wherever we need it. WITHOUT TOUCHING PAPER !!!!
Meeting the Challenge– Document Management • This will improve timeliness, customer satisfaction and quality assurance. • Massachusetts reports that health assistance application processing time was reduced by 50% with the implementation of a document management system. • Community partners no longer have to assist clients with the task of locating paperwork to resubmit to DSS because it has been lost. • No more frustrated clients who can’t get their cases processed because of misplaced forms or documentation.
Modernization – Meeting the Challenge Processing Centers Physical Plant Inadequate to address high volume and movement of people Service Centers
Meeting the Challenge– Processing Centers • Processing Centers will be a part of the current regional offices. • The DSS staff will be providing the case maintenance functions such as processing redeterminations and applications, TANF activities for time limited program participants, processing computer matches, and managing Long-Term Care Cases.
Meeting the Challenge– Service Centers • The regional offices will also be Service Centers. • Service Centers will provide access to self-service tools, as well as the opportunity for one-on-one assistance. • Service Centers will be redesigned to accommodate people with a variety of disabilities, including: cognitive, physical, auditory and visual. • As more and more people take advantage of DSS services via the phone or internet, the volume of people who come to a DSS service center will diminish.
Meeting the Challenge– Service Centers • Regional offices will be redesigned to facilitate self-service activities. • Computers to apply or complete a redetermination online. • Phones to be connected directly to Benefits Centers in 3 CT locations. • Fax machines to send documents to the document management center for indexing. • Self service areas will be supported with DSS staff to assist people who prefer to use these systems. DSS staff will be available to see people who want to or need to be seen as a result of the program they are on or applying for.
Meeting the Challenge– Service Centers • Some people will still need to be seen by DSS staff. • Certain types of programs such as SAGA cash and time-limited TFA require people to see an eligibility worker. • People may need extra support to be able to apply for or stay on our programs. • People with physical or cognitive disabilities may need or prefer a face-to-face contact. • Some may simply prefer to see a DSS staff person.
Phone Systems Differ from office to office Cannot direct callers to appropriate staff Voicemail not able to manage volume of calls Modernization –Meeting the Challenge Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Meeting the Challenge – IVR • When a client calls, they have the option of speaking to a worker, or using the new “IVR” (available in English and Spanish). • Organizations, public and private, are increasingly turning to IVR to reduce the cost of common questions, service, inquiry and support calls to and from their organization. • IVR allows the use of pre-recorded voice prompts and menus to present information and options to callers, and touch-tone telephone keypad entry to gather responses without the intervention of staff. • Enables a caller to access specific case information, general program information, or connect to a DSS worker.
Meeting the Challenge – IVR • People can call and request to have forms mailed to them, for example, applications, redeterminations, change reports and budget verifications; check the status of their case; verify that their mail was received by us and other steps. • With these types of calls, that do not require an interaction between the caller and a DSS staff person, IVR will save time for both the caller and DSS. • Callers who need more specific information will be directed to a DSS staff person at a virtual Benefits Center.
Meeting the Challenge – IVR • Successful Child Support IVR system within DSS for approximately 8 years. • IVR provides real-time access to child support information for custodial parties, noncustodial parents, employers, other state child support agencies, and the general public. • Approximately 185,000 calls per month are currently processed by the IVR with only 4% of callers opting out to a customer service representative. • Since implementation, the number of individuals utilizing the IVR has increased. • Enhancements to available information and IVR script has substantially reduced the need for customer service assistance.
Meeting the Challenge – IVR • If a caller wants or needs to speak with a DSS staff person, there will be a seamless transfer. • The call will be handled in most instances by an eligibility worker, who can respond to the concern of the caller and process any change on his/her case. • In most instances, the calls are eligibility related. In the case of medical providers or other types of calls, the caller will be transferred to the appropriate area of DSS. • Benefits centers will be a part of our current regional offices. • Three locations across the state to providenecessary system redundancy. • People call in to one toll-free number and call can beresponded to from anywhere. • Does not require new offices.
Modernization – Business Model Changes • A refined business model supported with new technology provides additional supports to insure access and efficiency. • Service Centers – the regional offices will be available for clients and our partners. • Processing Centers – located in the regional offices staff will be dedicated to the case maintenance functions that are needed to maintain eligibility. • Benefits Centers – located in three regional offices and manages eligibility functions via telephone for the entire state. • Dedicated units – specialized work like that of the current Regional Processing Units, will be administered with dedicated DSS staff to account for the complexities of TFA, LTC, and the RPU.
Modernization – Meeting the Challenge • Limited Hours • Limited Entry Points • Limited Access • Paper, Paper, Paper Web Front End
Meeting the Challenge- Web Front End • Our response is a web-based application similar to online banking. A web-based front-end will interface with our eligibility management system. Creates “anywhere” access for applications, redeterminations, and case information via the internet. • Through the use of Web Front-End, an individual: • Can apply or conduct his/her redetermination online • Can report changes online. • Can find out the status of his/her benefits Literally from anywhere where there is internet access.