Friday, June 26, 2020

MyBizColorado: A lesson in collaboration

One of the things I love about working at the Governor’s Office of Information Technology is the opportunity to see how innovative and creative our state can be. There are multiple ways this happens everyday in Colorado government, but this one caught my attention. Let me share with you a little bit about MyBiz Colorado...


MyBizColorado is the award-winning system envisioned to achieve the goal of offering the best possible service to the business community. 


Spearheaded by the Governor’s Office and the Secretary of State, this project was implemented in collaboration with the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Statewide Internet Portal Authority (Colorado SIPA), the Lieutenant Governor’s Office, and Colorado Interactive. In addition to the project sponsors and team, participating agencies included the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment, Colorado Department of Revenue, Department of Regulatory Agencies, Governor’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade. This commitment gives Colorado its well-deserved “business-friendly” reputation that encourages so many new businesses to form here. In the first few months alone, thousands of business registrations and licenses were issued to users of the MyBizColorado system.

MyBizColorado offers new businesses a website built with state of the art technology, a user-focused design, and streamlined procedures to help new companies get up and running successfully. What can you do by visiting MyBiz.Colorado.gov? You get a single system to interact with multiple state agencies responsible for new business creation, including the Secretary of State’s Office, Department of Revenue, Department of Labor and Employment, and Office of Economic Development & International Trade.

MyBizColorado is accessible, intuitive, and efficiently helps businesses register with state agencies and obtain the necessary licenses and permits to begin operations. Users will find a resource library and tutorials to help plan and develop new businesses, and numerous prompts along the way that provide assistance or point you to a contact person who can answer questions. With MyBizColorado, users find everything they need in one place – instead of having to go to individual websites for the Department of Labor and Employment, Department of Revenue, and others.

MyBizColorado, which is available in English and Spanish, is especially helpful for small businesses that do not have the resources or staff of big corporations but are vitally important to Colorado’s economy. In fact, small businesses in Colorado employ one million people, nearly half the state’s workforce.

Clearly, Colorado welcomes new business and we’re all willing to lend a hand. We are proud that state agencies collectively built an exceptional tool and resource to support Colorado businesses and help our economy thrive. Click here to watch a short MyBizColorado video featuring Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Secretary of State Jena Griswold. 

Today's blog comes from OIT External Relations Manager Jonita LeRoy, with contributions from OIT, SIPA, and MyBizColorado team members.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

An Introduction to PEAK: Coloradans’ Connection to Essential Benefits

Colorado PEAK
When Coloradans explore important benefit programs for which they might be eligible—whether it’s food, cash, medical, child care, or other assistance—they can either head to their local county office or use the Colorado PEAK® (Program Eligibility & Application Kit) online self-service portal.

Launched in 2011, PEAK has grown from an alternative application method to an ever-expanding ecosystem of resources that help deliver a better customer experience and bring cost savings to the state through new efficiencies and emerging technologies such as Chatbots.

PEAK—offered in English and Spanish—helps Coloradans discover a variety of benefit programs for which they might qualify through the Am I Eligible screening tool. If residents wish to jump right into the application, PEAK will guide them through the process, and in certain cases, provide immediate confirmation on whether they qualify for certain assistance.


Why it’s critical we get it right

The state currently serves more than 1.3 million Coloradans who receive food, cash, medical, and child care assistance. Approximately 192,000 of those customers access their PEAK account within a given month to apply for new benefits, update their information, make payments, and more. Maintaining a system that adapts to their needs, is available 24/7, and provides extensive customer service ensures that thousands of our fellow neighbors continue to receive the support they need.

Here’s a snapshot of some of the assistance programs for which Coloradans can apply through PEAK:

  • Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)
  • Colorado Child Care Assistance Program (CCCAP)
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Health First Colorado (Colorado Medicaid)
  • RTD LiVE



How it comes together

We’re never working on an island at OIT. Every project, service, application, and enhancement is borne from collaboration. For PEAK, decisions work their way through a robust team that includes the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF), Department of Human Services (CDHS), Connect for Health Colorado, Deloitte, community partners, county leaders, and nonprofits.

PEAK in a technical sense

The PEAK application moved onto the Salesforce platform in 2019, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. PEAK is able to provide Coloradans with critical assistance thanks to the Colorado Benefits Management System (CBMS), the statewide database system through which eligibility is determined for medical, food, and cash assistance programs. Each month, CBMS helps provide Coloradans with more than $60 million monthly in benefits and allows approximately 4,800 end users from the CDHS, HCPF, county departments of human services, Connect for Health Colorado, medical assistance sites, and presumptive eligibility sites to enter or view data.

As you can imagine, every change to this system requires extensive exploration, discussion, vetting, and testing so that Coloradans’ security and privacy are maintained.

Fun fact: CBMS was moved from state data centers to Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2018, becoming the first integrated eligibility and enrollment system in the nation to do so.


Building for the customer

Since its launch in 2011, PEAK continues to evolve to meet customer needs and the team behind it is always searching for the next evolution. In 2014, the PEAKHealth® app launched to offer a simple way to manage medical assistance benefits, and in 2018, the MyCOBenefits app launched to help Coloradans securely manage food and cash assistance benefits.

One of the most exciting developments in PEAK’s brief history, PEAK Chatbot, was introduced last year. Instead of waiting for a call center agent or needing to find time during normal business hours, when most are working, the Chatbot allows customers to get the answers they need, when they need them. Compared with the previous year’s average, Chatbot helped serve 335 percent more customers. And just as exciting, the Chatbot continues to learn and improve through each conversation.

The work to deliver benefits to Coloradans is never complete, and we’ll follow along with some of PEAK’s exciting developments through this blog.


Today's blog comes from OIT's Health IT Communications Manager, Fred Bauters

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

CIO Theresa Talks: Overcoming Social Injustice

This is an incredibly difficult and dark moment for our community—and for our state and for our country. Unfortunately the racial inequities and violence are not new. The tragic death of George Floyd and so many other people of color throughout our country’s history show how deep the challenges run. My heart is hurting alongside so many others who are feeling the pain of the needless death of another black person in America. But the reality is that this is much larger than the need to hold one officer or a few officers accountable. It’s about a pattern of injustice and unfair treatment that Black Americans and communities of color have endured, not only in our criminal justice system, but in every area of American society.

In the State of Colorado and at the Governor’s Office of Information Technology (OIT), we stand with, support, and value the black community. We are angry, sad, afraid, frustrated. We grieve for the loss of life. We want people to make their voices heard peacefully, not through violence. We strive to turn our emotions into advocacy and positive action. We want to work together to overcome systematic racism and social injustice.


I echo the words of Governor Polis, “As state employees, it’s our duty to not only deliver the best services we can to the people of Colorado, but it’s also our responsibility to help create a Colorado for All, where everyone has the opportunity to succeed, and everyone is treated with dignity and equality... The responsibility belongs to everyone—white, black, brown, local, state and national leaders, our law enforcement community—everyone to ensure a more equitable society, and make good on our national promise of liberty and justice for all... Now more than ever we need to lift each other up and do right by each other.

Customers, vendors, employees, and Coloradans who we ultimately serve, let’s listen to each others’ experiences and share our own. We invite conversation and safe spaces where it’s okay to talk about things like racial injustice and the biases that exist in our society. With this listening and space at OIT, together we seek to create a plan and take action to move our organization to a place with more equity, diversity, safety, opportunity, and inclusion. We can use this dark moment to be beacons of hope and create a more positive future for all. Know that I am ready to do my part.


Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” As you reflect on recent events, please also remember to take time to care for yourself and others. Know you are not alone. Stay safe. Take time off to heal and rejuvenate. Check in on those you care about. Do a random act of kindness, as it is contagious. Show love. Be the light… as a means to drive out darkness. In the words of Elizabeth George, “stars shine brightest in the darkest night.”

Black Lives Matter in Colorado.

Today's blog comes from OIT Chief Information Officer and Executive Director, Dr. Theresa M. Szczurek