Social Enterprise Management: Transforming Government Service Delivery

Policy & Practice, June 2005 | Go to article overview

Social Enterprise Management: Transforming Government Service Delivery


Citizen Service, long an oxymoron, is becoming an attainable goal. From New York to Utah and from Louisiana to British Columbia, forward-looking state and provincial governments are embracing a new Social Enterprise Management (SEM) business model to transform service delivery.

While these jurisdictions own diverse points of departure--setting out to modernize labor, human services, health, social security, or workers' compensations systems--they share a common destination. States are focused on serving citizens as customers rather than a series of distinct case or claim files. By utilizing available federal funds to modernize outdated and expensive legacy systems, the ultimate goal is to improve the operational efficiency and quality of service to citizens. The bottom line is an outcome-based approach that addresses the individual and family in totality where a path to independence and success is clearly defined. The ultimate outcome is self-sufficiency or return to work.

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Winds of Change: Why Now?

While the states' modernization initiatives are manifest in IT programs, the impetus for change is not fueled by improved hardware and software clock speeds. Many of the drivers within Social Enterprises, like human services and workforce services agencies, are as different as are the disciplines themselves.

Consider human services such as Child Welfare or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). States are struggling to maintain obsolete technologies while at the same time trying to make mandated changes. Changes in federal policies are driving increased administrative complexities. Additionally, there is an upswell in support from many States and from the Federal Government for taking an enterprise approach to modernization and transformation. States need to implement a solution in a reasonable timeframe, without further burdening case workers with manual workarounds.

Looking at labor in the context of a changing economy, states are focused on upgrading Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and tax capabilities to provide quicker support to displaced workers, capture and assess taxes, as well as detect fraud and abuse. Aging silo systems prevent states from quickly adopting new policies to compensate for downturns in the economy. More and more government leaders are envisioning a new model where tax and benefit systems are integrated and where workforce services are an integral part of an overall solution. Again, innovative leaders are focused on implementing solutions that support policy objectives and associated customer success.

Multiple Entry Points Lead to Confusion, Fraud, and Abuse

Installed silo approaches create redundant steps for citizens. This redundancy drives enormous processing overheads, complicates service delivery, and provides identity confusion that makes fraud and abuse difficult to identify. For example, eligibility processing is a part of almost every program. However, citizens have to apply through separate systems to qualify for each program--and are frequently confronted with duplicative qualification processes to secure distinct benefits, even within a single program area.

So What is SEM and How Can it Help?

Social Enterprise Management (SEM) is a new enterprise business approach made possible by a new generation of COTS-based application software designed to support the unique requirements of human services, labor, social security, and health. …

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