Governments are overwhelmed balancing consumer expectations, aging workforce, regulations, rapid technology change and fiscal deficits. This blog gathers a community of SMEs who discuss trends and outline how public sector organizations can leverage relevant best practices to drive their software-led transformation and build the future of technology – today!

March 1, 2018

How technology can help solve the Opioid crisis

Recent developments have finally provided funding to address the Opioid crisis. It is important to recognize that the crisis is a policy problem that will be solved with programs and people. But, technology can be an enabler to identify those at risk, define and execute the right interventions, and measure effectiveness of those interventions.

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February 19, 2018

Why AI in Social Programs is Inevitable (and a Good Thing)

There has been some press about predictive analytics in social programs, child welfare in particular. Predictive analytics can be defined as a simple application of artificial intelligence (AI): the system is given enough data and enough rules to figure out (in the case of child welfare) what children are at risk and when an intervention should be made.

The results have been incremental but this is also a technology in its infancy. As you move from analytic to true AI and a larger data set, you can predict more accurately.  

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February 1, 2018

Legacy vs. Modern systems: 5 things that you can do better with the latter!

Private sector organizations in the financial, retail, telecom space are raising the bar when it comes to customer service and engagement. Customers expect, but unfortunately do not receive, similar experience from their government agencies. One reason is the antiquated systems and processes used by agencies to deliver services.

A Center for Digital Government survey found that 70% of respondent agencies depend on legacy applications (built using COBOL, PowerBuilder etc.) for their operations.

Legacy technologies like COBOL, PowerBuilder etc. were popular once and may still help an agency 'do its job'. But they are not easy to maintain. IT teams recognize this challenge and want to modernize. Unfortunately, they find it extremely difficult to get buy-in from their business teams, who worry about the risk of disruption and are anxious about learning a new system.

In this blog, I outline 5 things that business teams can do with a modern system that they cannot with the old one, and how modernization can benefit them, their agency, and their customers. 

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November 28, 2017

Preparing for HHS' digital disruption: Thoughts from ISM 2017

American Public Human Services Association's (APHSA) IT Solutions Management (ISM) Conference 2017 was held last month. As thought, the focus is shifting from health programs to social programs, especially child welfare. There were many presentations on The Comprehensive Child Welfare Information System (CCWIS) and agile development. The lack of Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding and its pulling of attention to potential stop gaps has slowed or stopped states from other topics, such as much needed modernization. Another topic was the looming expiration of the A-87 waiver which enables other programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), to benefit from 90/10 Medicaid funding for shared IT functionality. Early analysis shows the A-87 waiver has saved over a billion dollars of taxpayer money by enabling shared services.

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June 16, 2017

Analytics to improve road user safety

Studies estimate that approximately 2.5 exabytes of data is created every day. US Department of Transportation suggests that this surge of data has been accompanied by an increase in connectivity among vehicles, sensors, people, and infrastructure in the transportation network. There are already almost 5 billion connected devices today and in the next five years, this will increase to 25 billion and 250 million of those will be connected vehicles.

This means that we will have smart vehicles not only providing infotainment to their drivers but also sharing data on their performance and usage, sensors tracking vehicular movement, assessing road and infrastructure conditions, mobile apps analyzing driving patterns and behavior of the driver.

How can all this data and information be used by motor vehicle and licensing agencies?

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May 18, 2017

Be more predictable and agile with CMMI

Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI)® is being increasingly used around the world to build scalable, resilient, high performance organizations and empower those organizations to deliver on the promises of agile approaches. Organizations leverage the CMMI to scale and strengthen agile implementations and address business problems outside the scope of agile approaches.

However, people misunderstand the alignment between CMMI and Agile and think that these both are competitive. In this blog, I will try to address this misconception and outline how CMMI and Agile are actually complementary and how CMMI can help organizations balance predictability and agility.

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December 6, 2016

Imperatives and trends reshaping DMV operations

Motor vehicle and driver licensing agencies are the "front door" to important set of government services. Having operated largely in a traditional 'office' model where customers had to visit the local branch office and were serviced by employees using legacy IT systems, motor vehicle and driver licensing agencies are transforming into a new age model where they can deliver a variety of services and products (vital records etc.) to customers through the channel of their choice and modern, agile, secure and efficient IT systems.

What is driving this transformation and what would the motor vehicle and licensing agencies look like in the next few years?

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November 16, 2016

DMVs gearing up to address AI and digital-driven change

The 2017 AAMVA region II annual conference will happen in June, however, the planning exercise to have another insightful and thought-provoking conference has already started.

AAMVA is a non-profit, tax-exempt industry association of the US Departments of Motor Vehicles and Canadian Ministries of Transportation. AAMVA develops model programs in motor vehicle administration, law enforcement, and highway safety. Every year, AAMVA organizes a number of events for jurisdictions to connect, collaborate and re-calibrate on key imperatives and priorities for their motor vehicle and licensing agencies. AAMVA region II annual conference is one such key event for jurisdictions in the South Central and Atlantic region.

Region II board and administrators met in the first week of November to identify the key things that should be discussed at the 2017 annual conference. We had an opportunity to connect with the board and administrators, learn key priorities for jurisdictions in the coming year, and share our perspective on the key trends shaping the future for the motor vehicle and licensing agencies.

Motor vehicle and licensing agencies are undergoing a significant transformation driven by a number of imperatives including increasing customer demands and service expectations, regulatory requirements, and evolving technologies (autonomous vehicles, big data analytics etc.). While system modernization still remains the top priority for jurisdictions, many agencies discussed some of the emerging trends that they are looking to address over the next few years. Some of these include social media for crisis management, improving collaboration with law enforcement, data driven approach to crime and traffic safety, and mobile driver licenses.

It was good to see agencies becoming more interested in technologies like social, mobile, and analytics. Some of the organizations in the commercial space have been using all these effectively to become more customer-centric, improve collaboration, enhance efficiency, and improve security. Agencies have a great opportunity fast-track their initiatives in this space by adapting best-practices from the commercial sector. Of course, modernized systems form a key foundation to leverage these technologies effectively. And, agile methodology is best suited to fast-track modernization and help agencies address the rapid pace of digital-driven change.

One thing that stood out was the number of jurisdictions looking for autonomous vehicle (AV) solution. There has been a growing number of discussions around AV at the state level, especially in the area of self-driving vehicles which provides significant technological challenge to motor vehicle and licensing agencies. USDOT just published guidelines and NHTSA has devoted $200M in its 2017 budget (almost 20%) to this area.

Jurisdictions are looking at all aspects of AV from vehicle, commercial vehicles, DL and testing crash reporting, and law enforcement. There are different levels of automation with "traveler" standardization. Note: Key is "traveler" and not the "vehicle". So, "situational awareness" is a big concern for a lot of agencies with insurance issues and different types of victims. Technology with integration to these different 3rd parties will become foundational and move beyond as "a way to manage the change driven by AV" to "the only way AV related programs can be administered in the future." States would need to accelerate adoption of the AV driven change with new updates to technology and/or face serious operational and regulatory difficulties.

It will be interesting to see how this all (AV related changes) plays out over the next few months. How do you see the role of agencies changing in the driverless vehicle world? 

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November 2, 2016

Health and human services agencies' growing interest in mobility solutions

This year's APHSA IT Solutions Management (ISM) conference - the premier health and human services technology conference where states (and more and more counties) come to see solutions for a variety of programs like eligibility, child welfare, and child support - was very interesting.

Health and human services space is undergoing a significant transformation driven by a number of imperatives including increasing customer demands and service expectations, regulatory requirements (like modularity), and evolving technologies (automation, big data analytics etc.). Many state agencies discussed how they are leveraging modular, component based approaches to modernize their systems, adopting agile methodologies, and using social, mobile, analytics and cloud solutions to improve outcomes.

One trend that took me by surprise, though, was the number of county governments looking for mobility solutions.

There has been a growing focus on mobility at the state level, especially in the area of child welfare, where case workers are generally on the go. I think the market has been assuming that the mobility capabilities would be developed at the state level, funded through federal sources such as ACF or CMS, and trickle down to the county level. This is logical: counties generally have the least investment dollars.

It seems, however, that the counties don't want to (or cannot afford to) wait for the trickle down to happen. This trend is occurring because the counties have an urgent need: their budgets are shrinking (as always) and lack of mobile technology is making what was once difficult, such as documenting site visits, into impossible.

Counties are willing to find the money to bring in the technology that can help them meet the needs in the future. To put it another way, they can't wait for the trickle down because they are approaching a standstill trying to work the same old way.

The take away here is that technology is becoming foundational and moving beyond as "a way to increase efficiency" to "the only way programs can be administered in the future." States need to accelerate adoption of new technology and "trickle down" faster or face a grass roots organic growth that would be very difficult to accommodate and integrate in the future.

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May 24, 2016

Agile procurement and implications for Gov. IT vendors: Insights from NASCIO 2016 Midyear Conference


NASCIO 2016 Midyear Conference happened earlier this month. It was the first time I attended the event. As a government health practitioner, I usually interact with Health and Human Services (HHS) executives, from policy and operations through technology. It was interesting to meet with technology executives responsible for the whole state, HHS included.

I learned several things: HHS IT is always on the minds of the state CIOs, but it isn't everything, and in some states it isn't a focus. Some states integrate their HHS plans into statewide plans, some have relatively autonomous HHS units. There isn't much reuse of the base infrastructure and capabilities put in place for HHS. While Meta-Tools are being implemented in HHS (MDM, MPI, MDI, etc.), they aren't being leveraged state-enterprise wide. I also learned that state CIOs are keenly aware of the legal and policy impacts to technology. My favorite comment was that the technology was not there to enable the citizen to get every benefit possible, but to get the right set of benefits they need to solve their problem. Whether that problem be cash, food, and medical benefits from Human Services programs for those in need, or just Joe Citizen trying to plan a camping trip at a state park where he wanted to fish also.

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