ATLANTA – A national public human services advocacy group has honored the Georgia Department of Human Services (DHS) with awards for two groundbreaking tech initiatives that enhance customer access and public accountability.

DHS this week won ISM Recognition Awards for Excellence in Health and Human Services Technology from the American Public Human Services Association (APHSA) for innovations in two categories:

  • The Georgia Enterprise Master Person Index (EMPI) Implementation (“Effective Use of Technology to Improve Operational Services” category)
  • GA DCSS, the Child Support Mobile App (“Innovation in Service Delivery that Improves Outcomes”)

The awards were announced Monday at APHSA’s IT Solutions Management for Human Services (ISM) Annual Conference in National Harbor, Md.

“Government entities at all levels work best when they hold themselves accountable for properly responding to the needs of citizens,” said Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal. “The innovations implemented by DHS and these awards indicate that Georgia is headed in the right direction on modernizing our information systems and making government services more accessible. I am proud of the work done by DHS and congratulate everyone involved with this well-deserved recognition.”

EMPI links together four state agencies and five health and human service programs to provide the ability to establish a common identity for an individual receiving services across the enterprise. By uniquely identifying individuals who had applied for or were receiving benefits, EMPI serves as the essential repository for customers’ identifying and demographic data for programs including:

  • Medicaid
  • Food stamps (SNAP)
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • Special Supplemental Nutrition Programs for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Georgia’s Childcare and Parent Services (CAPS)

“EMPI is our first step in understanding a holistic view of the citizens we serve,” said DHS CIO Venkat Krishnan. “Among other things, the benefits include developing a better understanding of the kinds of services Georgians need, economies of scale and commonalities of services.”

The Child Support Mobile App, developed for the Department’s Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), was launched in September 2016, making Georgia the first state to provide a full-service app to assist customers with child support cases on their mobile devices.

“The GA DCSS Mobile App has not only helped cut heavy call volume and long wait times at local child support offices, but is also convenient for our customers,” said DCSS Director Tanguler Gray. “It allows them to have secure access to their case information anytime, anywhere.”

Users of the app can:

  • Make child support payments
  • Review their payment history
  • View scheduled appointments, case activities, and details of child support orders
  • Chat with a DCSS representative
  • Receive notifications and alerts about important information regarding their cases

Also, the upcoming document-upload and signature-capture features will allow customers to sign documents without having to visit a DCSS office.

This is the second national award this month for the Child Support Mobile App. On Oct. 2 the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) recognized the app for excellence in digital government-to-citizen service.

“This recognition for the Child Support Mobile App and EMPI affirms the creativity and commitment of our Department’s public servants,” said DHS Commissioner Robyn A. Crittenden. “Technologies like these make clients’ interactions with the Department more secure and less complicated, allowing them to be more productive and self-sufficient. This is a big part of our work in building stronger families for a stronger Georgia.”

APHSA’s ISM awards program was instituted in 2005 to recognize state and local health and human service agencies that are at the forefront of information technology development and implementation.