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Missouri Takes a User-Focused Approach to Overhauling State IT

Armed with approximately $126 million in funding, the state’s Information Technology Services Division is taking a closer look at where their applications intersect with citizens and how to better improve their experiences.

Missouri IT officials are beginning to overhaul the state’s computer system to better serve citizens.

Overseen by the state’s Information Technology Services Division, the project boasts $126 million in funding. These funds come from $2.6 billion the state received in 2021 from American Rescue Plan Act funds.

State CIO Jeff Wann said that all improvements would build off what’s already in place instead of changing everything wholesale. For example, one area the project looks to address is improving citizens’ user experience and access to services.

“We are going at this from the basis of a citizen journey,” Wann said. “What friction points we can reduce, and how can we make it easier for our citizens to take care of whatever business they need to within the state?”

A few services that fall under this category include renewing driver’s licenses and license plates, applying for unemployment benefits and enabling one centralized single sign-on with multifactor authentication for applications.

Other services, Wann said, would be addressed through citizen journey mapping.

“The first plan is to do a citizen journey mapping to identify citizens’ top 50 journeys,” Wann explained. By gathering this information, the state will pinpoint specific services, applications and technologies that need to be improved.

Once these areas are identified, IT officials will switch to automating services and implementing new infrastructure layers to extrapolate older systems.

One way of doing this work is to implement a workflow and orchestration tool, Wann explained.

“The workflow and orchestration tool can sit on top of the older applications that we have and walk people through, so they don’t have to see what’s going on underneath,” Wann said. “You’re putting an abstraction layer between the portal, their experience and the systems used underneath.”

The idea behind this approach is that it would allow the state to modernize its systems one at a time rather than all at once.

“We’re able to modernize without changing all of our 1,200 systems,” Wann said. “This abstraction layer of new applications and infrastructure allows us to modernize more quickly and change things in the background as we need to and as we receive funding from the Legislature.”

As for how long this process will take, the project’s timeline depends on appropriations from lawmakers.

“What we have on our plate for this fiscal year is putting together new workflows for internal departments, identifying the top 50 citizen journeys, creating an infrastructure for operational data stores and a few new applications approved by the Legislature,” Wann said.

Once the state’s Legislature starts back up in February, he added, “I’m looking forward to sharing with them all the things we have put in place and the plans we have moving forward.”
Katya Diaz is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in global strategic communications from Florida International University.