Evolve for Government: Agency Modernization to Improve the Customer Experience
Do you want to know how the IRS and FDA modernization delivers benefits to taxpayers and medical device developers? If so, then join this panel discussion and hear about the new ways these agencies are innovating on superior customer service and experience. Hear about initiatives that will enable strong and secure systems platforms for customer-facing applications and expand the digital conversion of paper case files and documentation.
Get an inside look at current efforts aligned with the Taxpayer First Act of 2019 and the Total Product Lifecycle (TPLC), which aim to redesign and expand current IT capabilities to promote significant improvements in customer service and experience.
Our guest speakers will describe customer service perspectives, framing activities such as orchestration of numerous back office systems to bring automation to forward-facing applications and taking iterative approaches to solve complex problems.
This discussion is geared toward those interested in how large agencies can take an incremental approach to resolve issues in a digital environment to show immediate benefit. Come and see how the relationship with a trusted industry steward creates momentum by promoting service delivery at-scale and an immediate return on investment that you can see. Join us as the IRS and FDA solve for today – and set foundations for the future!
Welcome to our joint IRS and FDA panel discussion. Where we'll be speaking with agency executives about their modernization vision and goals of improving customer experience. So joining us in the session today are Liz McNamara from the FDA and Justin Abold LaBreche from the IRS. Liz is the digital transformation program director at the Center for Devices and Radiological Health. And Justin is a co-director in the enterprise digitalization and case management office. Justin, Liz, thank you both for joining us here today.
- Hi Doug. Thank you.
- Yeah, glad to be here.
- So interestingly your agencies, as we've been speaking here on and off for a few days here, and it's clear that you're both on very similar modernization journeys. So I'd like to ask you first, Justin, tell us how your team is dealing to implement some of the changes that are required related to the Taxpayer First Act.
- Well, that's a great question because the IRS has really focused on hitting it out of the ballpark when it comes to Taxpayer First Act and at the heart of that is the tax payer experience. And so my office, the enterprise digitalization and case management office was established earlier this year to spearhead our IRS efforts to improve that taxpayer experience so that taxpayers and employees work together to resolve issues in a simplified digital environment. I think that's the heart of the Taxpayer First Act. Together with my co-director, Harrison Smith, we're really focused on consolidating aging systems and migrating those business processes over to a common platform using Pegasystems. Some of the improvements that we're working on include electronic case files, increasing digital channels and self-service options available to our taxpayers, and streamlining our employees access to data so they can resolve issues more quickly. I think this is going to transform the way the IRS engages and works with the public. Taxpayers will receive faster service and the IRS employees are going to have the ability to comprehensively resolve issues that taxpayers bring to them. This is a great framework. It's really focused on helping the IRS modernized quickly and deliver the value to the taxpayer. That's at the heart of the Taxpayer First Act.
- Yeah, that's great. And you know, you're painting this vision of improved outcomes through better service, better, faster service and self service. So there's a lot going on there, Liz, over to you. Can you tell us just to frame this up with the Center for Devices and Radiological Health's total product life cycle program is going to mean to driving some better outcomes?
- Sure. Thanks Doug. The Center for Devices and Radiological Health, CDRH implemented a new approach on how it conducts business and the way it is structured back in 2019. Total product life cycle, or TPLC, transformation is an opportunity to increase information sharing across the center, enhance collective decision-making, improve work-life balance and increase professional opportunities for employees. So basically TPLC is a holistic approach that takes into account all the steps and processes that lead to the design, production, use, and impact of safe and effective high quality medical devices for our country. Digital transformation was also started in 2018 and that was in a center-wide five-year initiated program to provide technical solutions and platforms to support all of these re-imagined and improved processes. So basically we are building the plane while we're still up in the air. We have to continue to support the mission of FDA at CDRH while we transform our business process and technology.
- Yeah. Got it. So your modernization program is clearly really complex. There's no lack of complexity, which I think, you know, a lot of IT leaders in government can relate to. So when you think about sort of innovative thinking and rethinking experiences, you know, I'll hear from both of you, but first maybe back to you, Liz, you know, how, who are your customers and what are you doing to innovatively rethink their experience?
- So as shown in the diagram, our customers are twofold. We have external stakeholders depicted in the top layer that includes patients and providers in the healthcare ecosystem, the medical device manufacturers and our clinical partners participating in trials and research. Our second cohort at the bottom of this diagram, and they're made up of CDRH staff and medical experts who manage the TPLC of these medical devices. They are currently using a hodgepodge of homegrown applications that don't promote information sharing or decision support. So we're bringing Pegasystems in to provide that non-stop platform, which is your two portals on the left for most of our to meet most of our business capability needs.
- Got it. I love this diagram because it really paints a picture of the level of complexity, as I mentioned before, that you're up against, and you've got a lot going on here. So we know that a lot of these journeys are never straightforward and they're sort of forks back and forth and it can't be easy. So maybe, I guess, could you paint a picture of some of the challenges you're facing and how you're addressing them?
- Yes. So CDRH is a mission-oriented center and it's filled with the country's greatest minds in biomedical engineering, regulatory law, medical science, and innovation. We're also at this time heavily involved in COVID-19 activities. So finding time for business and technical groups to make the mental leap from a rapid response of their day-to-day work to envision future state processes and technology is somewhat difficult. And like many places, changes are not always welcomed by staff. Another challenge is that there's no one system that's going to provide all of our capabilities. So it requires integrating a bunch of different applications of which Pega will be the key platform. Lastly, there's really no roadmap for us to go by on this as CDRH is a one of a kind environment with unique business processes and needs. In fact, we oversee over 6,500 different medical device product categories and these are from 21,000 different device manufacturers. So these different types of devices require different regulations and different processes. So sometimes that makes standardization very challenging as well.
- Yeah, I can imagine. I mean, 21,000 device manufacturers, 6,500 different devices, you've got peoples who are really focused on rapid response and you're pulling them to think longer term strategically. There's so much going on in your world, you know, how do you, how do you manage this? How do you move quickly to meet all of these challenges in light of all the change?
- So there, we kind of employ a couple of solutions, but two that are really taking hold are, one, we're developing low fidelity prototypes so that we can help our stakeholders see how their user experience can change and embrace a new way of doing their work. The second thing we've done is we've established a TPLC taskforce and this group is a small group and meets ahead of all the development work we're doing in Pega. And they are tasked to assess, harmonize and prioritize all the different processes that TPLC includes and predict what type of business resources we're going to need and when we can schedule their time. So, how much time we need, so we can schedule that at least two weeks out. The task force also makes sure we have established goals, desired outputs and clear agendas when we do meet with the business. And we also are going to provide a sprint zero toolkit that will really be a reusable tool to help each of the teams start their development work.
- I love it. It's great to hear how you're really pulling all of the best practices together, innovative development, prototyping, governance, reuse, and sort of this overarching communication that's happening around all of it. I mean, it's a great way to, to manage the change that we were just talking about. So Justin, a minute ago, you'd mentioned the Taxpayer First Act. Maybe you could tell us about some of the work that your teams and others at the IRS are doing that are helping you meet some of the internal and external expectations around this act.
- Absolutely. Before I dive in on enterprise case management, I want to broaden our focus just for a little bit and talk to you about two IRS initiatives that are providing value already to the taxpayer. So one of those is a success we had earlier this year, making it possible for taxpayers to file an amended 1040. So before taxpayers, if they wanted to amend their 1040, had to file in pen and paper. And now you can file electronically. We also have been adding new features to our online account. And so if you haven't gone to irs.gov and logged into your secure online account as an individual taxpayer, I really encourage you to do that. We have a lot of great functionality there to be able to see your taxpayer account, any bills you may have, too. Now I want to dive in a little bit deeper on enterprise case management, which is where we're using Pegasystems. So the graphic in front of you talks to the strategic way we think about enterprise case management. and what we're trying to accomplish. On the left-hand side is the core ITPs standing up the platform, putting it in the cloud, connecting it to our on premise data systems, the core technology. Next to that, you've got business process modernization and migration. And like Liz is undertaking at the FDA, we're really trying to make certain that we modernize our business processes to take full advantage of the technology. But one thing I liked that she was talking about was the sprint zero package to communicate to people what the expectations are upfront. I love that and the low fidelity prototypes to help people get a better sense of what Pega can do for them. So I'm going to try to take those practices back to my own office. In the middle, we've got integration with common services. We're really trying to make it possible for employees to access all the different systems they need through Pega. So they don't have to log into a variety of places to research things to address a customer's need. That should make it faster and easier to respond to the taxpayer. Next to that, moving to the right, we are trying to make really wise investments in our legacy environment. We have 60 legacy case management systems. And as we migrate people off of them, we need to keep those running, but we don't want to overinvest. And then on the far right-hand side, we've got decommissioning and that's the end of the road. We really want to take these legacy case management systems and turn them off as quickly as we can. So across these five pillars, you can see the challenge in front of us and the IRS, which is stand up Pega, modernize and migrate over 250 business processes on representing 45,000 users, giving them what they need right in Pega, so that they can do their job quickly and get the taxpayers' needs addressed, make minimal investments in our legacy environments and move as rapidly as we can to decommissioning.
- Got it. And I got to say, I, as a side note, I love the real time cross agency collaboration we're witnessing today, that's great. But you know, from your point of view, Justin, you've got 250 business processes. 45,000 users is what you said, across all of these different applications. And you've taken on a lot really quickly in your team with the goal of reducing complexity and ultimately improving that experience. So when you think about some of the outcomes you're trying to achieve, you know, what are the operational and process types of improvements that are on your roadmap that are really going to help you get there in an impactful way?
- That's a great question. Well, first and foremost for us is value to customer. And so we had to find a starting point that would immediately let us demonstrate that our enterprise case management using Pega systems was going to deliver a better customer experience. So we selected a small process called tax exempt government entities, exempt organizations customer support that handles questions from the public about exempt organizations. And we selected it because it was taxpayer facing. So it has that value equation built in, relatively straightforward, small number of employees, about 30 co-located in one place, in Kentucky. And everything we need for that particular business process, we can reuse to accelerate our activities going forward. So what does that process look like before we start? Well, before we started modernizing that process was entirely manual. So the paper letters come in from the public through the mail, the mail gets opened, a clerk puts that mail into a filing cabinet, a literal filing cabinet, which is our check-in checkout system to control the inventory, research has done in a variety of systems. The employee then consolidates the response and sends it back to the taxpayer. Since April, when we acquired Pegasystems licenses, we've been able to create a much more digital experience. The taxpayer will be able to come in through irs.gov, starting in December to ask these questions, residual paper will be scanned in, case files will be paperless, our filing cabinet will get repurposed and used for something else out there in Kentucky. Our employees will be able to do the research right from Pega and be able to holistically address that customer need and send a response back. And it's just the tip of the iceberg for us, because everything we've done is going to be reused for the next set of business processes. And so I imagine that over the next year, we'll have several more business processes, customer facing and internal delivering value in Pega systems. And that's the, that's our secret sauce, small reusable components scaling quickly to provide value.
- It's so great. And both FDA and IRS stories, I don't think people necessarily appreciate just how challenging this type of large scale modernization can be. So really applaud you and your teams. We know that this is absolutely a team sport as you're going across this, or down this journey. So I do want to thank both of you and your teams for, for the work that you're doing and making the, the customer experience in government better. And thanks to both you, Justin and Liz for joining us today and sharing your experience.
- Thank you, Doug.
- And thanks to all of you for joining us today.
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