Richard Siemer: CIO implements VoIP and IVR at New York City Human Resources Administration

Moving to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) for phone service across 14 agencies resulted in savings of 62 percent.

by / March 12, 2009

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) held its annual Excellence in Technology Awards in November 2008, and Richard Siemer was honored for Demonstrated Leadership in Management of IT.

As deputy commissioner and CIO for the city's Human Resources Administration (HRA), Siemer has often been recognized for leading the way in making the HRA more efficient while also lowering costs.

The HRA provides public health insurance, food stamps, child care, home care for seniors, and many other services for more than 3 million New Yorkers. Siemer, a 27-year employee of the HRA, has worked hard to streamline the administration's activities.

For example, moving to voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) for phone service across 14 agencies resulted in savings of 62 percent. "On an enterprisewide level, where it makes sense, we want to leverage technology across all those human services agencies," Siemer said. It has gone so well, VoIP may eventually be used in all city agencies.

Siemer was also instrumental in setting up interactive voice response (IVR), which enables HRA customers and vendors to quickly check their application status or other information by phone 24/7. Many services are offered in several languages, and day-care vendors can submit attendance via phone, facilitating billing and payment processes.

Siemer was a crucial player in these and many other successful projects. It's all part of an agenda set by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "The Bloomberg administration is focused on leveraging technology for customer service," Siemer said. Carrying out that mission has brought citizens faster application processes and easier access to government information.

Siemer was also appointed regional representative of the American Public Human Services Association's IT affiliate. While Siemer appreciates the various honors, he's quick to point out that it's a team effort. He praises both his staff and fellow executives for helping him achieve results.