Gov. an­nounces tech up­grades to bet­ter con­nect agen­cies

Maryland Independent - - News - By JA­COB TAY­LOR Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice

ANNAPOLIS — Gov. Larry Hogan (R) on Thurs­day an­nounced an ef­fort to mod­ern­ize the tech­ni­cal in­fra­struc­ture at cer­tain state depart­ments. Ini­tially, these ef­forts will fo­cus on the tech­nol­ogy used by case­work­ers who ad­min­is­ter aid pro­grams to poor and at-risk Mary­lan­ders.

The up­grades were pre­sented as the first step of a process, called MD Think, that will even­tu­ally see most if not all depart­ments linked through a cloud­based data stor­age sys­tem. This sys­tem will make cer­tain types of per­sonal data avail­able to mul­ti­ple state agen­cies, pur­port­edly speed­ing up the pro­cesses by which peo­ple to ap­ply for ser­vices and re­duc­ing the amount of du­pli­cate forms that they have to fill out.

Lt. Gov. Boyd Ruther­ford (R) told the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land’s Cap­i­tal News Ser­vice that the ad­min­is­tra­tion has reached out to the state at­tor­ney gen­eral’s of­fice for guid­ance to en­sure that this in­crease in con­nec­tiv­ity does not com­pro­mise res­i­dents’ right to pri­vacy.

The cost of the project will be par­tially sup­port- ed by nearly $200 mil­lion in fed­eral fund­ing.

Hogan said the state’s dated tech­nol­ogy con­tin­ues to “cost more and more but de­liver less and less.”

Chief of Staff Sam Mal­ho­tra, whom Hogan called the brains be­hind the project, said that stud­ies in var­i­ous depart­ments pointed to the state’s com­puter sys­tems as a chief cause of sys­temic or­ga­ni­za­tional is­sues.

At the depart­ment of hu­man re­sources, specif­i­cally, Mal­ho­tra said “our sys­tems to­day are not an en­abler for our case­work­ers.” Hogan said that the new sys­tem will al­low DHR case­work­ers to pro­vide ser­vices while op­er­at­ing “in the field.”

Hogan also an­nounced the creation of a commission that will study the pos­si­bil­ity of a so­called “two-gen” ap­proach to com­bat­ing poverty. This ap­proach treats poverty as a fam­ily is­sue and fo­cuses on try­ing to al­le­vi­ate the multi-gen­er­a­tional causes of poverty that trap fam­i­lies in a cy­cle of eco­nomic hard­ship.

If adopted, this ap­proach would likely make use of the greater con­nec­tiv­ity that Hogan’s MD Think pro­gram prom­ises by co­or­di­nat­ing the ben­e­fits var­i­ous state depart­ments pro­vide to mem­bers of the same fam­ily.

PHO­TOS COURTESY OF CAP­I­TAL NEWS SER­VICE/HAN­NAH KLARNER

Gov. Larry Hogan, cen­ter, speaks at a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce MD Think in Annapolis on March 9. The new pro­gram is de­signed to al­low state agen­cies to share in­for­ma­tion about their clients more eas­ily to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vice.

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