Harrisburg, PA – Secretary of Administration Michael Newsome announced today that technology initiatives for the Department of Revenue and Department of Human Services were selected as finalists by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) for its 2022 State IT Recognition Awards.
The projects are among 31 finalists selected from over 100 state nominations. Winners in 10 categories will be announced at NASCIO’s annual conference in October.
“Every year, the Office of Administration partners with agencies on hundreds of technology projects to improve customer service, increase efficiency and achieve better results for their programs,” said Newsome. “To have two of these projects selected for national recognition is a testament to the Wolf administration’s leadership and the commonwealth’s IT professionals.”
The two Pennsylvania finalists are:
Department of Revenue: My Pennsylvania Tax Hub (myPATH)
The Department of Revenue’s modernization effort replaces legacy mainframe applications from the 1980s and expands the array of online taxpayer services available from the department. To date, 40 new services have been added to myPATH, the online portal that offers filing and payment options for taxpayers. Through myPATH, customers can file a wider array of tax return types electronically, receive correspondence online, communicate with the department through an online service, check the status of a refund or rebate and view estimated payments and credits.
The online application for the Property Tax/Rent Rebate (PTRR) program demonstrates the benefits of myPATH. The Property Tax/Rent Rebate program benefits older and disabled Pennsylvanians, among others. Prior to myPATH, there was no online filing option for PTRR. In 2021, residents submitted approximately 35,000 online PTRR applications. In 2022, the department received 56,000 online PTRR applications through the first seven months, which is already 60% more than in 2021. Nearly 80% of property tax/rent rebate applicants who provided customer feedback “strongly agreed” they had a positive experience using myPATH.
Personal Income Tax (PA-40) return processing has also improved with myPATH. In 2021, the department received 176,000 Personal Income Tax returns through myPATH, with only 2% requiring manual review. For comparison, paper returns had a 10% error rate and Modernized e-file (MeF) returns a 4.5% error rate. In the first four months of 2022, the department received 212,000 PA-40 returns through myPATH.
In addition to replacing legacy tax systems, myPATH will replace the services currently offered in the e-TIDES and PA-100 online applications, making it the central location for all the online services offered by the department.
“One of our main objectives at our agency is to push forward with innovative projects like this one that greatly improve customer service,” Revenue Secretary Dan Hassell said. “At the same time, we are creating efficiencies for our employees and providing them with new tools to make their day-to-day jobs easier. We’re also proud of the fact that this project has remained on time and on budget since its launch in 2018.”
Department of Human Services: Event-Based Mass Texting for Benefits
The Department of Human Services is using text message notifications to increase responsiveness to other correspondence it is legally required to send through the mail, such as renewal packets and requests to provide verification documents to support a benefits application. When households do not respond in a timely manner, their benefits may be closed, or they may not be authorized for a new program or benefit – risking unnecessary disruption to health care, food assistance and other supportive services. When this happens, County Assistance Office (CAO) staff must carry out actions to renew the household’s benefit or perform outreach for the missing information.
“Implementing text messaging outreach allows us to better communicate with Pennsylvanians we serve by providing important updates and information in real-time,” said Human Services Acting Secretary Meg Snead. “By helping the individuals and families we serve maintain access to essential services and supports, we are improving efficiency by reducing instances of avoidable disruption.”
Individuals can subscribe to receive text messages through COMPASS. When a renewal packet is mailed, for example, a text message is immediately sent to the head of household informing them that they can expect their renewal packet in the mail. This combination of time-based text messaging paired with physically mailed correspondence helps directly improve open rates and actions taken by the recipient. The department measured a 30 percent increase in the timely submission of online renewals among benefit recipients who opted to receive text messages.
DHS has sent over 850,000 text messages to over 475,000 households since October 2021. Based on the positive outcomes, DHS plans to expand the text messaging capabilities in the future and is exploring additional communications capabilities to streamline interactions between CAO staff and benefit recipients.
NASCIO presents the Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Information Technology awards to states that have implemented exceptional programs that have made an important contribution to the operation of state government. To learn more about the awards, visit nascio.org.
Dan Egan, Office of Administration, [email protected]
Jeffrey Johnson, Revenue, [email protected]
Brandon Cwalina, Human Services, [email protected]
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