Published on 10-Feb-2010
Validated on 13 Dec 2013
Alameda County Social Services Agency
Seeking to reduce costs while improving the performance of state social programs, the state of California passed a Deficit Reduction Act that included both performance targets and stiff penalties if the targets were not achieved. The Act required that the work participation rate (WPR) for welfare recipients reach 50 percent, and put the onus on county social service agencies to find a way to make that happen.
Faced with new regulations requiring better welfare case outcomes, Alameda County needed to gain a better understanding of case status and program performance.
Alameda teamed with IBM to deploy an information management system that combines entity analytics with business intelligence to give workers an agency-wide, comprehensive view of individual cases.
Gives managers and caseworkers a deep, real-time understanding of case and program status; reveals relationships between benefit recipients and programs; generates reports in minutes instead of weeks or months
Don Edwards, Assistant Deputy Director, Alameda County Social Services talks about how the Social Services Integrated Reporting System (SSIRS) combines entity analytics with business intelligence to give workers an agency-wide, comprehensive view of individual cases.
IBM Smarter Planet Customer Reference
Alameda County Social Services
Interviewee: Don Edwards, Assistant Agency
Also IBM Rep: Jeff Butcher, IBM Solution Architect
As Produced Transcript
TEXT: Smart is… social programs that help more people and save money
Don Edwards: One of the keys to really making this happen is that it not be a technology project and from the beginning, we made sure that it was a business project, that bringing the program people, the welfare managers, the child welfare managers, the adult and aging managers, bringing them all together and giving them the reigns if you will.
Don Edwards: Alameda County has 1.6 million people. The county itself employs 9,000 people, 2,200 of which work for the Social Services Agency.
Don Edwards: We have always dealt with client growth but nothing as big as what we are experiencing today.
Don Edwards: what we were looking for it was more than just a data warehouse, we were looking for business intelligence, we were looking for the ability to reach down to our client to be able to show how the agency is performing at the global level, the manager level, the supervisor level, the worker level, and to be able to empower the worker to push that “how am I doing?” button and know every day how well they have done.
Don Edwards: What we have is a Social Services Integrated Reporting System and appropriately named because it has integrated all of our major programs.
Don Edwards: Well, in local government, it's not just your colleagues that you have to convince, it's also the board of supervisors that you have to get this past. It's the county administrator and you have got to tell a story that’s compelling enough that we believe it and we as an organization, as the agency believe it strong enough to make the county administrator believe it and at least to accept it.
Don Edwards: My job was to sell the tool as an aid, something that would help us get to the next step.
Don Edwards: some of the things that we look at improving business process, we talk about it at the executive table. And when we looked at it and all the things that it could do, there was no doubt, in my mind anyway, that this is the right place for us.
Don Edwards: Not only did IBM build the tool, bring it to our organization, set it down on the floor and helped us implement it, they taught us how to use it. And they stayed with us side by side, they provided the kinds of nurturing that the technicians needed, the mentoring that they required. IBM helped Alameda County understand what we actually had in the Social Services Integrated Reporting tool.
Don Edwards: Like most counties, most cities actually, we are data rich and information poor and lots and lots of data comes through in all of the programs.
Don Edwards: this information has always been in our system but it's been in the Welfare system, in the Adult and Aging system, in the Child Welfare system. And now what we have is, it's five systems that looks like one. They all funnel through the Social Services Integrated Reporting System, so I can see the client in a single view across programs.
Jeff Butcher: The Alameda County solution included Cognos for its ability to quickly create dashboards so that we could get this important information into the hands of the case workers. It also included Entity Analytics which alerts them to when clients are out of compliance and more importantly, it alerts them to when clients are eligible for additional services that could benefit them.
Don Edwards: we saw the connection of clients to other clients, families connected by address or Social Security Number, telephone number and this was really the big win because all of a sudden, now we know more about this client than we ever knew.
Don Edwards: We can connect the services to the people, to each of our customers and our clients. And provide real-time information on the status of Alameda County Social Services, and improve productivity for our workers.
Don Edwards: That really was a transformation in the way we do business today. We have the tools that tell us exactly where our problems are and how to go about fixing them.
Don Edwards: And what we found was very conservatively the possibility of saving almost $11 million in elimination of waste and reduction of fraud.
Don Edwards: The Smarter Planet from Alameda County’s perspective means that we are now interconnected, our tools are now connected, our people are connected. It will help us help the community.