Promoting Public Benefits Access Through Web-Based Tools and Outreach: A National Scan of Efforts. Volume I: Background, Efforts in Brief, and Related Initiatives. A. Efforts on Public Agency Websites


Efforts hosted on public agency websites support the mission of the agencies that operate them and the benefit programs those agencies offer. They are often part of a larger initiative launched by a state or locality to modernize its eligibility and case management systems. When they are part of larger initiatives, they may facilitate eligibility determination and program enrollment as well as the benefit application process. These efforts may be hosted on federal, state, or local agency websites.

Efforts hosted on public agency websites operate on a variety of information systems technology (IT) platforms typically developed in one of three ways. First, public agencies may design and implement the technology completely internally, relying on their own programmers and IT staff to develop and configure the code. Second, an agency may purchase commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) products that are developed by other organizations (typically for-profit organizations) and then install and configure them internally (sometimes with the help of the vendor) to meet its unique needs. These products are often purchased via license agreements and may or may not include ongoing maintenance agreements. Third, agencies may leverage state transfer systems—technology that was developed by another state agency, often with assistance from outside organizations (typically for-profit organizations). Because these systems were developed with government funds, they are in the public domain and available to other state or local governments to install and then recode to meet their own needs. Agencies that leverage these state transfer systems often rely on a “systems integrator”—an outside organization (typically a for-profit organization) that reconfigures code and customizes the technology. Identifying the specific IT platforms on which public agency-hosted efforts operate is beyond the scope of the scan, though we include limited information in the summaries where it was readily obtainable. Our data collection approach yielded more information about the technical architecture of some efforts than others. Readers should be aware that some of the individually identified efforts in the scan are based on the same COTS products or state transfer systems, so they are similar in how they are constructed and in how they operate despite their unique names and individual summaries in Volume II.

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