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A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume VIII, Issue 1||January/February 2005|
By Jerry McCarthyAs ACES (Automated Client Eligibility System) gains in age -- it will soon be 30 months since roll-out -- it continues to mature and improve and connect positively with thousands of Maines citizens in need of medical, financial, food, child care and other assistance administered by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Maines ACES was completed in 2002 the result of a several year planning and design effort of the Bureau of Family Independence. Keane, Inc., an IT consulting and design firm, was the primary contactor on the project. Replacing our 23-year-old Bull-housed legacy "WELFRE" system, ACES was to be a cutting-edged and web-based new standard for eligibility systems. An interactive interview and every day language were to replace data entry forms, complicated codes filling DOS-style screens, and a clerk/terminal operator processing reams of information. A rules engine would use that information to cascade through nineteen potential program possibilities and offer a list of benefit types and levels. Best choices would be made and accepted, results would be immediate and notice was to be automatic. And ACES is all of that.
Immediately upon implementation and following a caseload conversion (automated mostly, but augmented a little with data not available in WELFRE), ACES began issuing benefits, and touching lives.
Noteworthy too is the fact that ACES provides case-management support for over 9,700 ASPIRE/PaS clients and handles the monthly issuance of a number of ASPIRE Support Services totaling $2,026,675 (for December, 2004), through that MFASIS interface.
Alas, ACES does generate some degree of user angst. It took a number of years to make WELFRE work as well as it did. And now some time is being required to get all of the kinks and cranks worked out of ACES and all of the fixes, adjustments and improvements made. As improvements are implemented, and staff become increasingly familiar with all of the functionality of ACES, we will continue to reduce paperwork and forms, interview, case maintenance and decision-making time, and processing errors.
Certainly, ACES is not bad for a product built in two and half years. Systems involving this amount of data and complexity can cost many times more than the ACES implementation. ACES needed to be an economical system and it has been. ACES may not be the ultimate "multi-tasker" but it does come close. And just like that other "stuff", it is aging toward perfection.
Questions? Contact the author, who works in the Houlton office by calling 532-5067 or e-mailing Jerry.McCarthy@maine.gov.
A 30+ year veteran of the Department of Health and Human Services where he has experienced several technology advancements, Jerry is a Regional Program Administrator for the Bureau of Family Independence. He was one of several members of the State Team assisting with the development of ACES and became way too familiar with I-95 between Houlton and Augusta in the process! He continues to take great satisfaction from the fact that Aroostook Countys hearty group of "can-do" staff was chosen to pilot test and implement the ACES application.