The best in New York state government have proved over the past year that it’s not the technology that counts -- it's who’s running it.
On the evening of Sept. 5, the Center for Digital Government (CDG), the research arm of Government Technology's parent company, e.Republic Inc., awarded 40 New York public-sector leaders, agencies and departments for technology excellence at the 2014 New York Digital Government Summit and Best of New York Awards in Albany, N.Y.
In partnership with Government Technology and the state of New York, the 26th annual event provided a forum to recognize the most outstanding contributions to New York IT that increased efficiency and productivity, improved citizen services and lowered operating costs.
“The state of New York is leading the way with technology innovation in business analytics, mobile apps, use of social media, and secure, real-time patient health information,” said CDG Executive Director Todd Sander. “The center is pleased to give these efforts the credit they deserve and congratulates all the winners.”
This year’s top leadership award, Demonstrated Excellence in Project Management, was presented to Daniel Travers, a project manager at the Office of Information Technology Services (ITS). Travers is known in New York state government as a leader who completes projects on time and on budget, no matter how complex.
Since taking a role at the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) in 2009, Travers has transitioned into a position with ITS, leading projects like migrating the WCB data center, the Windows 7 Upgrade Project, and transitioning Uninsured Employer fund cases to an outside administrator.
From a manager’s perspective, Travers is the epitome of good project management, said Karen Starke, assistant business solutions director at ITS.
“Pretty much any project I give him to manage, I know it will get done on time and budget, and that he’ll keep me appraised of anything that’s going on,” she said, adding that technology is always about change. "There’s always part of a project where you’ve never done something before, and he’s very good at making sure people get over that fear. He provides them a safety net to say it’s OK if we make mistakes as long as we can recover and get back on track and learn from that. I think that’s critical.”
Travers thanked his colleagues for allowing him to succeed. “It’s very humbling, but getting there, you realize that it wasn’t you. It was all these other people," he said. "At the end of the day, you look good, but it’s because of them.”
Travers also shared one of the most important things he learned over the years about working in a group. “Listening to people,” he said. “You really have to become a good listener to become a good communicator, and project management is really about communication. You don’t win these awards by yourself. You win them as part of a team that communicates with one another. That’s really where my success is measured. I might take the award home, but I’m really taking it home for a team of people.”
Nine more awards were given for project excellence.
Best Application Serving an Agency’s Business Needs was awarded to the Department of Taxation and Finance/Civil Enforcement for its inventory management system (IMS). Developed in-house, the IMS is credited with transforming the agency’s staff into a mobile workforce. The application provides a job information dashboard, calculates optimal travel routes, generates reports and allows for batch processing, all of which leads to cost savings, increased fund generation and greater efficiency.
The Best Application Serving an Agency’s Business Needs also was given to the NYC Department of Transportation for its NYCStreets Permit Management System. The Web-based GIS-enabled street excavation permit management system can be accessed by devices of all types. Users can apply for permits around the clock, generate PDF permits for printing, and view a history of permits in all stages of processing. The system replaces a 30-year-old mainframe responsible for processing 250,000 permits yearly.
Best Application Serving the Public was awarded to the Department of Motor Vehicles for its self-service kiosks. Downtown state offices implemented terminals for self-service as part of a Transforming DMV Customer Service initiative. Users can renew and duplicate registrations and licenses, print a license abstract, change an address or sign up for electronic notifications. The average transaction time at a kiosk was found to be about two and a half minutes.
Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations was awarded to the Department of Taxation and Finance/Civil Enforcement and the Department of Motor Vehicles for the agencies’ Suspension of a Driver License for Tax Delinquency program. To meet the requirement of new legislation that suspends drivers' licenses for tax debtors with $10,000 or more in fixed and final tax debt, the two departments collaborated on a system that identifies and notifies taxpayers of impending suspension, issues suspensions and monitors taxpayer compliance. More than $68 million in tax debt has been collected as a result of this program.
The Best IT Collaboration Among Organizations award also was given to the Department of Information Technology and the Telecommunication/Fire Department/Heath & Hospitals Corporation for the FDNY Electronic Patient Care Reporting Wireless Tablet Project. Through this tablet project, physicians can receive near real-time electrocardiogram data, and On-Line Medical Control can view continuous streaming of vitals and EKGs for critical care patients. The implementation enables data collection, ensures cost recovery from insurance carriers and assists in the identification of large-scale health events like disease outbreaks.
Best In-House Developed Application was awarded to the Office of Information Technology Services for its model-driven audit selection (MDAS) program. The agency’s new MDAS software evaluates, scores and ranks audit candidates according to business rules and statistical models. The software boosted user productivity by 20 percent and revenue by $15 million annually.
Most Innovative Use of Social Media/Citizen Engagement was awarded to the Office of the State Comptroller for Connecting New Yorkers with Lost Money Through Social Media program. The state now has accounts totaling more than $13 billion in unclaimed funds. To connect more citizens with money they are owed, the office began a Facebook and Twitter campaign to raise awareness of how citizens can apply for unclaimed funds. More than 800,000 accounts were processed in the past fiscal year, leading to a record $422 million paid to claimants.
Best Mobile/Wireless Project was awarded to the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) for iRideNYC. To provide safe, efficient and environmentally friendly transportation to New York City, the DOT developed an application that provides users with real-time data about the city’s subway, bus and Citi Bike systems. Developed with HTML5 and responsive design, the software provides users with dynamic walking guides, GPS functionality, and an original map designed by DOT designers and planners.
The Best Mobile/Wireless Project award also was given to the Office of Information Technology Services for the e-FINDS Mobile Application. The e-FINDS app allows hospitals, nursing homes and adult care facilities to track and locate patients quickly and easily. Facilities use barcode wristbands to track patients, updating the system each time a patient’s wristband is scanned.
Thirty more awards were presented for Outstanding IT Service and Support. A complete list of winners is available on the Center for Digital Government's website.
Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.