automated processes (Nikolay Klimenko/Shutterstock.com)

Facing wave of retirements, Connecticut looks to digitization for efficiency and savings

To better prepare for the wave of retirements from Connecticut’s state agencies -- more than 8,000 state employees are eligible for retirement in 2022 – the state hired a consultant to help it identify efficiencies and cost savings.

The report, produced by the Boston Consulting Group and released March 31, engaged more than 2,500 employees at 41 agencies and found roughly 200 opportunities for improvement and streamlining that could yield between $600 million and $900 million in savings, Connecticut officials said.

The report includes a wide range of suggestions, including further digitizing records, streamlining hiring processes, consolidating real estate assets, privatizing services and continuing modernization efforts already in progress.

Increased digitization of manual processes, common management and payment platforms and shared HR and payroll services would eliminate redundant positions, reduce overtime and help offset disruptions from the retirement surge, according to the report.

Statewide, the report estimates that digitizing and automating citizen services and internal processes could generate up to $300 million of value -- largely through cost savings -- and improve the quality of services offered. Examples include further digitizing Department of Motor Vehicle transactions and back-office processing and moving to electronic health records for Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services patients.

A modernization project at the Department of Revenue Services aims to digitize more of the tax filing process and improve the back-end system with a cloud platform and better reporting tools. The upgrade could potentially generate “hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue uplift over the first 5 years,” the report suggests.

Similarly, updating the state’s unemployment insurance system would increase flexibility, operational efficiency and reduce fraud in a fragmented, legacy platform that stumbled under the weight of pandemic-related layoffs.

The report also proposes creating a central hub for grants and contracts administration to standardize processes across agencies and reduce the amount of manual work required for funds management.

The Department of Administrative Services (DAS), which manages IT services for state agencies, currently has 735 employees, 43% of which will be eligible to retire by July 1, 2022. This poses a risk to service continuity across the state, the report states.

Centralizing portions of IT will help streamline services, reduce the need for redundant staff and move the state toward a one-stop-shop for residents and businesses. Self-service activities such as address changes, tax filings and motor vehicle registrations, would eliminate repetitive tasks for state employees, allowing them to focus on more complex or strategic initiatives.

By maintaining some telework options, the state can “avoid significant capital expenses for building upkeep and safety, and return real estate property to tax-producing assets,” the report suggests.

Other ideas include:

  • Deploying drones for bridge inspections and automating drawbridges and traffic signals.
  • Rationalizing statewide vehicle fleets and parking expenses now that more employees are working remotely.
  • Enhancing the state’s e-Procurement platform as an end-to-end digital solution and activating data analytics to identify savings opportunities.
  • Embedding advanced analytics in HR processes, which will help the state better manage the potential hiring surge following retirements.

“With more than 8,000 executive branch employees eligible for retirement in the next year, the state faces significant risk in our continuity of operations, but also a unique opportunity to reinvent and modernize how we provide services to Connecticut residents,”  DAS Commissioner and state CTO Josh Geballe said.  

“We’ve already made significant progress to improve the quality and efficiency of state government, for example by moving more transactions online at the Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Revenue Services, and the Department of Consumer Protection,” he said. “We continue to see significant opportunities to further improve services for Connecticut residents while reducing cost to taxpayers.”

Read the full report here.

About the Author

Susan Miller is executive editor at GCN.

Over a career spent in tech media, Miller has worked in editorial, print production and online, starting on the copy desk at IDG’s ComputerWorld, moving to print production for Federal Computer Week and later helping launch websites and email newsletter delivery for FCW. After a turn at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology, where she worked to promote technology-based economic development, she rejoined what was to become 1105 Media in 2004, eventually managing content and production for all the company's government-focused websites. Miller shifted back to editorial in 2012, when she began working with GCN.

Miller has a BA and MA from West Chester University and did Ph.D. work in English at the University of Delaware.

Connect with Susan at [email protected] or @sjaymiller.

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