Maine sees benefits in system

Maine Department of Human Services

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Maine's Department of Human Services (DHS) has officially launched its Web-based

Automated Client Eligibility System.

ACES enables specialists from about 45 human services programs to quickly

determine a person's eligibility for state benefits from a single entry

of the applicant's information.

The system will prove invaluable in being able to use scarce employee

resources more efficiently, according to Newell Augur, DHS' director of

legislative and public affairs.

"In the past we've had to go through a separate qualifications process

for each of the programs," he said. "Now we'll be able to know within seconds

of entering a person's information what programs and benefits they are qualified

for."

The new system is expected to reduce the number of paper forms used

in the application process by up to 75 percent, to reduce program and processing

errors by 30 percent, and to reduce intake and validation time by 20 percent.

ACES also fits more closely with Maine's philosophy in dealing with

benefits programs, he said, which is to appoint a single case manager for

each applicant across all of the state's programs.

It uses industry standard protocols such Extensible Markup Language,

JavaScript and J2EE to exchange information with various parts of the government

benefits system. Case managers access the system through a single portal.

The system took just 26 months to develop and launch statewide, said

Tom Mechachonis, managing director of Keane Inc., which implemented the

system.

The company already provides some services to federal, state and local

governments, but this is its first development of such an extensive benefits

program.

Company officials say Maine's system can be used as a template for similar

programs elsewhere in the country.

"Most states do understand they need to go to a Web-based system" for

these kinds of things, said Ed Gott, Keane's account executive for the Maine

project.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore. He can be

reached at hullite@mindspring.com.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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