Goodbye to Data Hoarding
Timothy Powers 270003F3FN firstname.lastname@example.org | 2012-10-23 22:04:06.0 | Tags:  dhs big-data illinois-department-of-hu... enterprise-content-manage... | 1 Comments | 4,341 Visits
Guest post from Doug Kasamis, Chief Information Officer, Illinois Department of Human Services
It’s estimated that 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is created every day and 90 percent of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone.
At DHS, we know what it’s like to be buried by Big Data. In our case, it was tons of paper.
In 2010, the Illinois Department of Human Services (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.
DHS is one of the largest state agencies in Illinois, with more than 12,000 employees and an annual budget of $5.4 billion. We provide integrated services through 100 Family and Community Resource Centers (FCRC) for state residents on welfare, those transitioning to work, and others looking for more self–sufficiency.
The problem? When constituents applied for benefits at local family centers, the process required a tremendous amount of paperwork. In addition to documents verifying eligibility, our 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, we 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, we determined that digitizing just the forms would eliminate upwards of seven million pieces of paper annually at a savings of $1 million dollars using Enterprise Content Management software. Not a bad start. These forms are now automatically filed as PDF files in an electronic customer case file in our internal Concurrent system.
Today, we have about 2,000 caseworkers using IBM Enterprise Content Management. 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.
That process alone was costing DHS more than $600,000 per month. Once we fully deploy the IBM solution to include the remaining 24 forms, we expect that number to grow substantially.
From a records retention policy perspective, we have to store files for five years. Approximately 20% of our files are purged annually. Assuming at least 15 percent of that volume will not be replaced with new paper, we expect to be almost paperless within the local offices in a little over five years.
The best news?
Our caseworkers now spend more time with clients instead of battling paperwork, ensuring people get the services they need.