Instrumented Interconnecteds Intelligent
October, 21st 2010

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Editor’s Note: The following is a guest post from Lori Higdon, Senior Business Systems Analyst, Clark County, Nevada

How do you stay a progressive and results-oriented government that is responsive, accessible and accountable to 2 million citizens? A strong commitment to driving innovation focused on improving citizen service helps.

Clark Country Family Services Department is the local public agency in Nevada whose role is to help keep children safe, as required by the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act. We’re responsible for running many services – from child protective services to foster care services to adoption services – all of which require a large amount of data input and access.

Clark County used to operate on a system where the state was responsible for the back-end operations for child welfare, foster and adoption services. Only the front end services, such as intake and investigation, were the responsibility of the county.
However, significant changes made by the Nevada legislature over the years now makes all of those services the responsibility of the two largest counties in the state, one of which is mine. It’s up to us to service one of the fastest growing states in the nation.

To keep our quality of services on pace with the population growth, we needed to bring innovative ways to serve our citizens. We realized spreadsheets and hand counting of information led to confusion, errors and time delays in serving those in need. With the added requirements to work with the statewide system and benchmark new services, we had to find a solution that would not only streamline reporting, but also help us to comply with regulations and measure business performance – that’s where business analytics comes in.

Analytics has made a huge difference in how Clark Country Family Services Department works and delivers services. We’ve been able to solve our initial challenges around data access, information explosion and reporting. It’s helped us monitor case worker compliance with state policies and legislation more easily. We’ve been able to identify bottlenecks and improve business processes.

Our executives, for instance, can now look at a variety of measurements such as whether open investigations are being completed in a timely fashion, how many face-to-face contacts have taken place with victims of abuse and neglect, and the average length of stay for children in out-of-home placements.

Our analysts are also reaping the benefits. While it used to take the programming staff 14 hours to build a report, it now takes 6.5 hours – meaning that analysts can get their reports much faster. And with thousands of ad hoc and daily reports run annually, this adds up to an enormous amount of time saved for my department.

Saving the best for last, analytics has been instrumental in helping us identify more federal revenue sources. In fact, we’ve generated about $7 million in new revenue over the last 18 months – a significant amount that is especially needed in tough economic times.

The bottom line? Our staff can devote more time going out in the community and providing services to families and children vs. dealing with numbers and data.

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