Industry focus: Putting the “service” in citizen services
Cecile Poyet 270002RD4N CPOYET@US.IBM.COM | | Tags:  social-programs business-process-manageme... decision-management analytics texas-education-agency bpm government citizen-services education-programs business-rules
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For a typical government, almost half of its budget will be spent on citizen-centric activities, such as social programs, infrastructure and business development, safety and security. Spending on so-called social programs, for things like healthcare, education, family, employment and training services, is under fire more than ever because many citizens or stakeholders aren’t experiencing the expected return on investment despite perceived over-spending. Politics aside, part of the problem may be because it’s hard to see the connection between what we spend and what we get. Whether you’re a government, corporation or family, this is an equal-opportunity problem.
In a recent paper by analyst firm MWD, analyst Neil Ward Dutton, does a good job of identifying several key obstacles to delivering better citizen services (e.g., legacy systems, existing incentives, lack of governance) and several key capabilities required to support a citizen-centric service transformation (e.g., BPM, Business Analytics, agile architecture). He demonstrates with three case studies: City of Corpus Christi, Texas; Municipal Information Systems Association, Ontario, Canada; and the New York Health and Human Services. It’s worth a read for a bigger picture perspective because he underscores the non-negotiable importance of aligning business and IT – developing a “business architecture” which transparently connects the goals of the technology to the goals of delivering better citizen services.
What can be done right now? While reading the article, I kept thinking about what governments can do now, say, in the next 3-6 months, to better serve their stakeholders on their way to a much-needed transformation. And how can decision management help. Three words came to mind. Texas Education Agency (TEA). For those who don’t teach or live in Texas, the Texas public school system is one of the largest in the U.S. and the TEA implements educational programs according to the laws and business rules that are passed down by the Texas legislature and the Texas State Board of Education. This is an interesting case of “putting the service back into stakeholder services” because there was a clearly defined service problem and relatively straightforward solution – a project that could scale when the time and budget was right.
In a nutshell: The TEA was struggling to better serve Texas teachers (all 300,000 of them). It couldn’t respond fast enough to regulatory changes in its Teacher Certification Program, to give clear and immediate certification guidance to teachers, because applications were dependent on business rules that were embedded in years of programming code. The fix: Externalize these rules from the code and represent them in common business language so subject matter experts can maintain them as opposed to IT.
Note: If you’re coming to IBM’s IMPACT conference (April 10-15, Las Vegas), Rick Goldgar, the Deputy CIO of Texas Education Agency, will be there to present this solution in detail.