Albany, NY - Government, like any other business, needs information to survive and thrive. Public managers use a variety of data, facts, records, and statistics to make decisions, draft plans, create programs, and deliver services to citizens.
The University at Albany's Center for Technology in Government (CTG) spent the past two years working with seven New York state and local agencies to help them make better use of information to carry out their missions. Through the "Using Information in Government Program," CTG worked with: Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Bureau of Shelter Services, Office of the State Comptroller and its Division of Municipal Affairs, Central New York Psychiatric Center, Office of Real Property Services, Department of Transportation, and New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
"We addressed the agencies' goals while studying an array of governmental processes," said CTG Project Director Theresa Pardo. "Throughout this program, we studied the effects of complex organizational relationships, barriers to information sharing, and the challenges of incorporating emerging technologies into public sector service delivery programs."
The Bureau of Shelter Services needed an integrated information resource to help assess the impact of the services provided to the state's homeless population. CTG worked with the Bureau to develop a business case to secure funding and other support for the Homeless Information Management System, a prototype Web-based resource that draws information from a variety of sources. The system is expected to be fully operational by the summer of 2001.
The State Comptroller's Division of Municipal Affairs wanted to create a way for its decentralized offices to share records and customer contact information. CTG helped the agency develop a business case for the Municipal Affairs Contact Repository Operating System, which will provide employees with remote and desktop access to vital information about the municipalities they support. The system is currently under development at the agency.
The Central New York Psychiatric Center needed a method to facilitate data sharing and decision making throughout the more than 20 units it oversees. CTG worked with the forensic psychiatric center to create a business case to secure support for an Intranet database. The Center is implementing the system, which should be fully operational by September.
The Office of the State Comptroller is in the early stages of an effort to enhance the central accounting system, an 18-year-old mainframe legacy system that's the backbone of New York's financial and budgetary operations. CTG worked with the Office on an important first step of this initiative: determining the needs of agencies that use the system. The findings from a series of user needs workshops are integral to the Office's plans, which are moving forward.
The Office of Real Property Services is working to ensure fairness and equity in the real property tax system by providing increased state aid to municipalities that conduct annual property reassessments. CTG aided this effort by conducting a series of workshops with local assessors and county directors to determine the resources they need in order to successfully implement annual reassessments in their communities. The Office is incorporating their suggestions into its program to make it easier for municipalities to conduct annual reassessments.
The Department of Transportation is developing an information technology (IT) investment process that links strategic, investment, line management, and budget processes. CTG taught several assessment and analysis tools to agency representatives, which are helping them refine the project's vision and objectives. The three cycles of the IT investment process (selection, tracking, and evaluation) are undergoing a phased implementation.
The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications is creating a new information management model that supports sound IT investments as called for in the city's IT strategic plan. CTG assisted in this effort by conducting a series of facilitated workshops to elicit the barriers and enablers city operating agencies encounter when using current processes. Work groups are making recommendations on how to implement several priority items as part of the new information management model.
Based on its work with these agencies, CTG is creating a Web-based resource kit designed to help government managers identify and solve their agencies' information problems. The resource, which will be available on CTG's Web site at www.ctg.albany.edu, is scheduled to launch this fall.
The mission of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany is to foster public sector innovation, enhance capability, generate public value, and support good governance. We carry out this mission through applied research, knowledge sharing, and collaboration at the intersection of policy, management, and technology.