January 4, 2010 By Andy Opsahl
A bureaucratic process between California counties and the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will soon be history, thanks to collaboration between the DMV and Kevin Dickey, deputy CIO and chief information security officer of Contra Costa County, Calif.
For years, the DMV has required the numerous business units within all the counties to fill out a thick application for continuing their data access arrangements with the DMV. Completing the applications has been a nuisance for county CIOs because they have to help each business unit with the technology aspects of the application every time a business unit needs to complete one.
"We have 17 different business units in my county that DMV sends a separate package to," Dickey said.
DMV staff found administrating all of those packages equally burdensome, according to Paulette Johnson, chief information security officer for the California DMV.
Different county units get the packages at different times of the year, meaning Dickey and other county CIOs have to go through the process several times annually. Getting the completed applications approved by the DMV is another headache, according to Dickey.
"After heading over to the DMV, the package goes through a minimum of four different business units over there. If any one of those business units doesn't like the way I crossed a 't' or dotted an 'i,' they can reject it and send it back," Dickey said.
In early 2009, Dickey got permission from all California county CIOs to meet with the DMV on their behalf and propose a solution. As a pilot project, Dickey suggested the DMV create one application package designed for gathering all of the necessary data at once from all of the county's business units. Since county IT departments had to have a hand in every business unit's application, Dickey suggested county IT departments facilitate completion of the applications. An IT official can supply all IT-related information for all the business units at once and instruct the business units on what they need to contribute. Then the IT official will submit the package to the DMV for approval.
"We're going to save the DMV soft- and hard-dollar costs significantly, as well as all the counties," Dickey remarked, pointing to the extra processing work that would vanish for both counties and the DMV.
DMV officials were elated because the idea aligned with the data security agenda they were already establishing. "This aligns with the DMV's goals of increasing the security of its information," Johnson said.
Coincidentally, in 2009, the DMV had already implemented a similar consolidation to the security request packages it sent to the California Department of Child Support Services.
Dickey got the backing of all of the state's county CIOs by circulating an e-mail pitching his idea. He was viewed as uniquely suited for the job because of his prior career in state government.
"With my 22 years of prior state service, I knew how the bureaucracy worked, and I knew whom to contact," Dickey said.
The DMV assembled the numerous employees responsible for sending packages to agencies and created a single package that would cover all necessary data. Part of this process required establishing the amount of time needed to create a package, based on the number of county agencies that needed to provide information for it.
Johnson said the pilot attempt at this project with Contra Costa County is going well, and the DMV would announce its intent to move forward with other counties near the end of January.
"We're good to go now. As a matter of fact, we're meeting with the counties later on this month and announcing this," Johnson reported, later adding, "We can't have all 58 counties come do it at once. We're going to have to stagger the workload."
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.