In 2010, the DHS had more than 100 million pieces of paper stored in case files at local offices and warehouses throughout the state, taking up space and hurting caseworker productivity. When constituents applied for benefits at local family centers, the process required a tremendous amount of paperwork. In addition to documents verifying eligibility, the agency had to keep historical records of applicant visits from day one through the entire screening and approval process.
Scanning the millions of existing printed documents wasn't feasible from a cost standpoint. Instead, DHS assessed the costs and benefits of digitizing three forms critical to the benefit eligibility determination process: Calculation Sheets (Calcs), the Combined Application Form (CAF) and the Form 514 chronological record of case processing.
Working with IBM, DHS determined that digitizing these forms would eliminate upwards of seven million pieces of paper annually using Enterprise Content Management big data technologies. These forms are now automatically filed as PDF files in an electronic customer case file in its internal Concurrent system.
"At DHS, we recognize that our caseworkers can best serve their customers by spending time with them", stated Doug Kasamis, Chief Information Officer at DHS. "Using IBM software, we've been able to eliminate millions of pieces of paper from our processes. This has enabled DHS caseworkers to spend more time focusing on the needs of their clients and not on battling paperwork. The system paid for itself in three months."
Today, more than 2,000 caseworkers use IBM Enterprise Content Management Big Data technologies. When a customer contacts the agency, a caseworker goes through a series of questions and inputs the responses into a dynamic Concurrent green-screen form. Based on the information provided, the system determines program eligibility, assigns metadata, and stores the electronic forms in a central repository for later retrieval. Caseworker time spent retrieving information has gone from days to just seconds, which has been a big boost to customer service.
Previously, all this information had to be printed out at local offices. The caseworker had to go to the nearest printer, make sure every page was there and printed correctly, come back and incorporate the forms into the case files. If those files were not at the caseworker's desk, more time was lost searching the file room. Once DHS fully deploys the IBM solution to include the remaining 24 forms, management expects substantial additional savings.
"The IBM solution is an excellent example of state government and private industry working together to develop strategies for maximizing our limited resources", stated DHS Secretary Michelle R.B. Saddler. "Just as important, the IBM software solution helps us streamline our local offices and improve efficiency, which in turn enhances the workplace, employee morale and service to our customers."