Douglas-Omaha Technology Commission

The Douglas-Omaha Technology Commission is a trailblazer, modernizing IT to provide constituents and employees alike with a better digital experience.

 

DOTComm is the technology services provider for Douglas County and the city of Omaha, NE.

To increase efficiencies, reduce costs and improve IT services, Douglas County, Neb., and the city of Omaha merged their technology departments in 2003, creating a single organization. Today, that consolidated organization — the Douglas-Omaha Technology Commission (DOTComm) — provides technical support and consulting services to more than 70 governmental entities spread across 120 locations. Approximately 5,000 government workers rely on DOTComm’s services every day.

“We maintain and support all IT applications used across the city and county, including about 500 COTS and legacy mainframe applications,” says Vijay Badal, director of Web Applications and DOTComm leader. “But the fact that a lot of those applications are based on legacy technologies prevents us from delivering more modern experiences to agencies and constituents.”

 

State and local governments are under pressure to modernize IT.

DOTComm is not the only organization facing such challenges. For example, 10 of the federal government’s legacy systems most in need of modernization cost about $337 million a year to operate and maintain, according to the Government Accountability Office.[1] Those funds could otherwise be spent on more innovative, modern services. Legacy systems are also often less secure than systems built on newer technologies. While new software is constantly being updated to protect against security breaches, older software solutions may no longer be supported and can stop receiving security updates, making them a target for cybercriminals.[2]

While consolidating IT has provided Douglas County and the city of Omaha with numerous benefits over the years, the number of legacy systems still present prevents the organization from accomplishing more.

“As we go forward, we need to think about how to modernize our technology so we can enable workers to be more efficient and provide citizens the same high levels of application performance, ease of use and 24/7 availability they receive from private sector digital services — without sacrificing safety or security,” says Badal. “Citizens don’t want to go to an office and get in line to pay taxes or get permits anymore. They want to do that from their phones while they’re sitting at home. We have to make that happen.”

Supporting modern applications with a move to cloud.

 

Recently, Badal and team launched several cloud-based proofs-of-concept projects. The success of those projects provided a strong argument for migrating more DOTComm applications to the cloud. One such system, built on Salesforce Service Cloud, is a case management application for the Douglas County Department of Mental Health.

In Douglas County, individuals with mental illness are encouraged to obtain voluntary treatment. If that person doesn’t obtain voluntary treatment, relatives can petition the Board for involuntary custody and treatment.

“Those processes involve 50 to 100 different types of documents and a lot of internal communication between the parties involved — including the county attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office, hospital administrators and physicians,” says Badal.

The new Board of Mental Health application aggregates all that data, creating a one-stop shop where all stakeholders can see the status of a petition, read related documents, and view approvals and notifications. In addition, DOTComm created a workflow-driven patient intake system. Now, once the patient intake process is complete, patient data is automatically routed to all stakeholders securely.

“It makes the whole process seamless and efficient,” says Badal. “It enables better team collaboration, and all communication is tacked to the patient, providing a comprehensive patient history that personnel can access at any time.”

Improving efficiency enables a better citizen experience.

The Board of Mental Health’s modern platform gives DOTComm flexibility to adapt the user experience based on the latest customer demands, bringing a degree of future-proofing to the platform that would not be possible on a legacy system.

“We don’t have to rely on the telephone game from one email to the next,” says Badal. “We don’t have to worry about documents being saved in or shared from offline folders or local drives.”

The application has also helped the Board of Mental Health move faster and in a more secure manner.

“This type of modern IT strategy has helped us accomplish more,” says Badal. “We have a foundation that offers advanced levels of security, supports new applications and delivers a better employee experience — all while reducing costs and complexity.”

Douglas County and the city of Omaha still run legacy platforms, but DOTComm plans to gradually transition more platforms to the cloud.

“There’s still a lot of work to be done, but moving to cloud gives us an opportunity to find creative, innovative, secure ways to modernize on a small budget,” says Badal.

 

This piece was developed and written by the Government Technology Content Studio, with information and input from Salesforce.

[1] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/03/gender-equality-latin-american-business/

[2] http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GGGR_2018.pdf

 

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