Digital State 2002

The Center for Digital Government and The Progress & Freedom Foundation survey the 50 states to reveal who's getting the most out of technology in law enforcement/courts and social services.

by / June 4, 2002
The Center for Digital Government conducted part one of the 2002 Digital State Survey under trying circumstances. Law enforcement and the courts now shoulder ever-expanding responsibilities under the rubric of homeland security. Coordination and computer networks are the lifeblood of a broader yet more focused justice enterprise.

Meanwhile, social services experienced the effects of the first economic downturn since welfare reform. Throughout the long period of economic growth, programs like welfare-to-work have transformed public assistance and helped thousands find employment and economic opportunity. But the five-year deadline on Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits is now approaching just as the economy slows.

During the survey, several strategies emerged as key drivers of digital success under these circumstances. Increased demands and budget shortfalls have raised the value of enterprise systems not only for better coordination, but for increased efficiencies through eliminating or combining redundant processes and systems. Kansas IT Quality Assurance Supervisor Morey Sullivan said that when resources and budgets are limited and services must be delivered, IT fills the need.

Another essential ingredient for digital government highlighted in this survey is a workable governance model that can weather changes in administrations and technology leadership. Strong governance models have enabled many top-ranked states in this survey to overcome changes in IT management. The problem of continuity could be exacerbated in 2002, as 36 states elect governors with nearly half the incumbents not running for re-election. As Kansas Acting CIO Bruce Roberts termed it, governance must contain "survivability."

Social Services

The social services category has been a bit of a sleeper, according to Cathilea Robinett, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. "But during the last two years, states have made huge strides in this area. I attribute this to specific mandates and the commitment of top-ranked states to automate these systems."

Robinett said the five-way ties for first and third places are significant. "The clustering at the top of this survey demonstrates the maturity level of this category," she said. "Years of hard work are starting to pay off in the social services area."

Kansas and Washington were first in social services in both 2001 and 2002. Virginia rose from 21st last year to 1st this year. Missouri rose from 21st to 7th. Michigan and Arizona rose from 8th to 1st.

Washington's Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is taking a "no wrong door" approach to social services, integrating a number of different services that may serve the same client.

David Brummel, e-government specialist for DSHS, explained that using an online eligibility calculator, a person can check to see if they qualify for benefits. If they meet specific criteria, they can submit an online application. In addition, call centers and a voice-response system help users check up on child-support payment status. A new application just went online in which child support payments can be made online by medium-sized businesses -- as in the case of wage garnishments -- or by individuals. "I've heard of only one other state doing that" said Brummel, "and Washington charges no fee."

The Washington State Employment Security Department uses a "clicks and bricks" approach to integrating online services and field-office support. According to Joe Racek, Web manager for the department's Worksource employment service application, the state polls users and benchmarks its employment site against successful job search sites like Monster.com.

The job seeker fills out an online resume, then collects job openings in a "shopping cart." To "check out," the applicant clicks on the openings for which he or she wishes to apply, and resumes are forwarded to employers after a quick check to ensure the applicant meets minimum qualifications. Last year, about 130,000 job searches were conducted each week, said Michael Wilson, the department's communication director. This year the number has grown to 230,000.

The state's welfare-to-work program is also working hard to help find jobs for people on welfare before the 60-month benefits deadline runs out for the first group of recipients this August, said Kathy Davis, communications coordinator for Workfirst , the state's welfare reform program. Workfirst referrals to Employment Security sign in on an automated system that gives social services staff nearly real-time confirmation of who's arrived and who hasn't.

"It tells us how many people were referred to Jobsearch," said Davis, "how many showed up, and how many arrived after a warning letter."

The state has detailed performance metrics online for all to see.

Kansas Roles

Kansas ranked first this year in both social services and law enforcement/courts, and according to Acting CIO Bruce Roberts, the state's role-based governance model was very helpful in navigating through changes that most recently included the retirement of 26-year state-government veteran and CIO Don Heiman.

"Our governance model has a survivability to it that's similar to the structure of government," said Roberts. "It helped us sustain good performance, and also encourages the agencies to have confidence in moving forward.

"Kansas is doing well because we have a greater and greater appreciation of the integration of e-applications across the enterprise," continued Roberts. In Kansas and other states, he explained, success comes from applying the basics, including "interagency applications with a high level of respect for how we can work with one another."

"We have over 100 counties," said Morey Sullivan, quality assurance supervisor for the Department of Information Systems and Communications (DISC). "State government has a presence in every county courthouse. Because of that, it's necessary to be very effective and efficient with our IT, so that we can speak to each other, and do business over those miles, while keeping in mind lower budgets and less resources. It's incumbent on the IT area to fill the needs."

Another example of enterprise thinking is the Kansas Payment Center. It is used by both social services and the courts and is also being integrated into other applications.

Michigan's Muscle

Jim Hogan, senior project manager for Michigan Human Services Development, said human services agencies field hundreds of calls from people trying to find out what to do when a family member needs care. "They don't know if they need to put them in a nursing home, or assistive care, etc. So we developed, using Seybold technology, a screening tool that asks people 26 different questions that quantifies such things as 'my loved one needs help with housework,' etc. They click a button when they're done answering the questions. We do a quantitative analysis based on the responses, and we come back and tell them 'based on the answers you've given us, these are the most appropriate care settings.' It provides a uniform assessment across state agencies, and across third party non-profit agencies. And we tie it into a resource directory, so if we tell them 'you need respite care, or nursing home assistance,' they can view and print out a list of the agencies in their community that provide those services."

Hogan said, "people don't know what they don't know," and if they are going through this for the first time with a parent, for example, the questions will give them ideas they may not have thought of previously.

Hogan also said Michigan is one of the first states to become HIPAA compliant. They contracted with the Michigan Virtual University, and put together a training
curriculum for providers and citizens. There is no cost, and there are several courses.

Hogan said some successful partnerships have helped roll out some of these innovative applications, including e-Michigan and the Family Independence Agency under CIO Mike Scieszka; and the long-term care initiative with the Department of Community Health.

Doors to Arizona

Arizona ranked first in social services and second in law enforcement and the courts. According to Susan Patrick, strategic communications manager of the Government Information Technology Agency (GITA), one advantage Arizona enjoys is that government turnover stays in the state. Even though Arizona has had four CIOs since Patrick joined GITA in 1999, each had a good background in state government and brought expertise to the table.

In social services, said Patrick, the state also took a "no wrong door" approach by integrating databases. "When a citizen walks into a state agency, the citizen or the worker will be able to pull up their eligibility for all of those services - We looked at the forms, databases, the 'not-fun' part of it," she said. "But you have to go through that part of the process."

The state also installed electronic fingerprinting for eligibility screening in each social service office. "You eliminate fraud and you can improve the services for the people that are eligible."

Virginia Business

David Nims, of the Virginia Department of Technology Planning, said the state is dealing with budgets by evaluating results and responding accordingly. "Virginia Results is a performance management system for every state agency," he said. "The whole notion of performance measurements gives us the opportunity to look at what we're doing and try to do it better."

Nims also said that within Health and Human Services, CIOs banded together to form a collaborative advisory group, the Council on Technology Services , which includes leadership and top management across a spectrum of state agencies, and is a forum for cross-fertilization of ideas. The HIPAA Enterprise Architecture Workgroup, for example, worked with a number of agencies to design an enterprise security program.

Christopher Doss, executive director of the Virginia Information Providers' Network Authority, said the Virginia Employment Commission has been working on elevating the sophistication of its Internet job bank. And state agencies implemented kiosk information services and videoconferencing in coordination with local governments.

Nims also revealed that the state is participating in a multi-state, online interactive job-seeking system called Mid-Atlantic Career Connect (MACC). "It will bring together programs like welfare to work, the Workforce Investment Act and provide more opportunities to do things online," he said. The pilot, to run in July, will include several nearby states.

And there's more to come. Harry Sutton, the director of the Information Systems Department for Social Services, said the department has been implementing best practices using industry standards and overhauling internal structure and technology. "The overhaul is taking place right now, and there's no such thing as 'business as usual.'"

Colorado Justice

Continuing its hold first-place success for the second consecutive year, Colorado has many reasons it's at the top of the law enforcement/courts category.

The Colorado Integrated Criminal Justice Information System (CICJIS), has been cited as a model for information sharing of the type now much in demand for homeland security. According to Daniel Sullivan, the state's enterprise technology strategist, there are similar initiatives in other departments, particularly in the human services area. "Gov. Owens recognized the value of a central IT policy shop," said Sullivan. "We have a team of half a dozen folks focusing on the enterprise. It's
a key element in our evolution to more of an enterprise structure."

Colorado is obviously capable of carrying out long-term planning. CIO Robert Feingold just posted a four-year technology plan on the state Web site. And Feingold said that most of the original deliverables for CICJIS have been "delivered" since it went live in 1996.

"There were 60 original deliverables," he said, "representing 60 different types of information transferred between some or all of the five participating agencies: adult corrections, juvenile corrections, the court system, the DA's office, and all local law enforcement offices. Fifty-eight of those original deliverables have been completed -- a real milestone for the project."

Feingold also said the disposition matching rate -- where an arrest noted in the system is matched with a final disposition of the case -- exceeds 80 percent in CICJIS, while the national average is about 30 percent. Even before Sept. 11, he said, "Most people came to the conclusion that the investment they made in CICJIS was a good one, it was providing a benefit to the state."

Arizona Data Integration

"Our legislators are deeply interested in law enforcement, and those things tend to get funded first," said Patrick. She said there are a number of interagency projects in the works. "Right now we're doing a new online computerized criminal history, a statewide repository of arrests and dispositions of charges for all people arrested in the state, so not only is that cross-jurisdictional, but that also is going to tie back into the social services and child protective services areas."

Patrick said that the Motor Vehicles Department and the Phoenix Police Department and state Department of Public Safety are piloting an automated accident reporting system, which ties back into the integrated criminal justice system.

Patrick said the state courts are doing some groundbreaking work, as well. "Jurors get a card to swipe when they come in and get their schedule. It will calculate distance from their home to pay transportation costs, give them a per diem for lunch, and they can swipe the card and get the money - when they come in."

Patrick credits the work the courts are doing for much of the state's progress in integrating justice data. "An important focus for us is not only what's happening within law enforcement," said Patrick, "but how we can pull that information out and make safety a broader issue."

Kansas Collaboration

Acting Kansas CIO Bruce Roberts said some of the same things that worked well in social services also helped propel the state forward in law enforcement and the courts, moving up to first place from last year's ninth-place finish. He notes the "survivable governance model" and "interagency applications with a high level of respect for how we can work with one another.

"Our CJIS application criminal justice information system for Kansas is another keystone application for interagency work. [It] crosses six or seven agencies and is an integrating application," he said.

"The governance model used for CJIS is a roles-based collaborative model, and it meets the needs of the enterprise and encourages a lot of collaboration and recognition that there are opportunities rather than constraints. After working that way for some years, there is a kind of collaborative energy among the players and a confidence that they can get these things done."

Wisconsin's Model

Sandy Chalmers, spokeswoman for the Wisconsin Department of Electronic Government, said the state has a scripts pilot under way that will enable law enforcement, district attorneys and the courts to exchange data electronically. Currently, it is operating in Iowa and Jefferson counties,
but Chalmers said the model -- with Web-based technology and open architecture using XML -- will be easy to roll out across the state following the pilot. The system allows data sharing despite differing individual system architectures. Chalmers said the results have been very promising.

"We've made a lot of progress over the last year," she said, "at increasing the county participation. In Wisconsin it's a voluntary program, so we have to sell each district attorney in the state on our system, and to do that, we have to emphasize customer service, meet each district attorney where he or she is, understand his or her needs, then build on what they have."

Several years ago, said Chalmers, the state had 71 DAs operating independently. Today, the network serves two-thirds of the citizens in the state. A third of the population is served by a case management system built to the DA's specifications.

Sept. 11 highlighted the need to have law enforcement in the loop, said Chalmers. "What we are hearing from our police chiefs," she said, "is that criminal justice information is a key issue for preparedness, not just criminal justice."

Chalmers said that while other states look at a centralized top-down approach, Wisconsin has to start at the grassroots and build acceptance, and sell the program on its merits. This resulted in a strong partnership with the DAs, she said.
Wayne Hanson Senior Executive Editor, Center For Digital Government