New Castle County has the responsibility to dispense funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to municipalities and fire companies throughout their county. Within two business days, this county government in Delaware successfully launched from start to finish an automated workflow and online form to make it easy, compliant and efficient for the municipalities and fire companies to submit requests for reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses. The county set a record for the fastest turnaround time, and it was able to accomplish this feat by using the SimpliGov platform.
“We’re the first county in the first state to use next-generation, cloud-based government workflow automation to stand up a digital form in support of the CARES Act within 48 hours with a fully compliant workflow associated with the form,” said Michael Hojnicki, Chief of Technology and Administrative Services, New Castle County, State of Delaware. “Working with SimpliGov has been an awesome experience. After I saw the demo of the SimpliGov platform, I said, ‘I’m sold. I like it. I want it. Let’s make it happen.’”
New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer said, “SimpliGov has provided a turnkey solution for New Castle County’s needs to get much needed financial resources into the community. They’ve made our process so much easier.”
The following are the details of how New Castle County and SimpliGov worked together to make it happen. All in just a few days!
With CARES Act funds directly available from the U.S. Treasury, New Castle County was trying to work fast to set up a form to facilitate the distribution of money to municipalities and fire companies, which were increasingly asking for the reimbursement request form.
The county government needed a way to organize the fields in the form, create a formal review process and have a clear audit trail to ensure compliance with federal guidelines. The county started to do it all in-house, but they kept running into challenges.
“We were building our own form, but after two weeks, it became clear that it wasn’t working well,” said Hojnicki. “We were under pressure because we have to disperse these funds before the end of the year, so the Information System Manager Jon Yearly continued to do research and look at alternatives.”
The stakes were high, with millions of dollars in limbo. The team was scrambling, and the intensity was naturally rising. But Hojnicki and his team were determined to get something done. Then a demo was scheduled unexpectedly, and it changed everything.
“Jon Yearly said to me, ‘You need to look at this product and you need to join this meeting on June 25.’ I said okay, and I’m glad I did.”
The product that was being showcased in the meeting turned out to be the SimpliGov platform, a no-code solution built for government to automate processes and digitize forms. The platform was highly recommended by the county’s software supplier SHI International.
The initial meeting was at 12 noon. At the end of it, Hojnicki challenged the Simpligov team: “How quickly can you stand up a demo for me? And can you do it today?”
By 5 p.m. on the same day, SimpliGov had a working demo that was nearly 80 percent complete, according to the county.
“We decided to change direction,” said Hojnicki. “We made more progress with SimpliGov in 24 hours than we did on our own in two weeks with our original design.”
The SimpliGov-powered workflow was streamlined from fiscal review to legal review (when needed) to accounts payable for processing. The solution had SSO integration for security and compliance, with the audit trail as a definite plus, according to Hojnicki.
Moreover, the SimpliGov platform gave the county the ability to track the requests for reimbursement and to communicate with the applicants during the process, in case any issues come up or additional information is needed.
By late Thursday evening, New Castle County’s environment had been provisioned. The interconnections were made the next morning. Some adjustments were made to the workflow. By Friday afternoon, connections to Active Directory and single sign-on were being made.
“Within minutes, Active Directory was talking to the SimpliGov platform,” said Yearly. “It was a breeze.”
SimpliGov’s integration with Active Directory demonstrates the power of the workflow, along with the functionality to do real-time checks at various steps and the dashboard to see the status of applications, as well as the sophisticated audit trail in the workflow. While a PDF-based process is inherently inefficient, and an HTML form does not have a workflow associated with it, the ability to streamline and control the workflow differentiates the SimpliGov platform.
For New Castle County, everything in the workflow was ready to launch by Friday evening – 36 hours from the initial meeting the previous day. The final walkthrough was done that night.
“We were operational with everything you need for a formal workflow, and it was amazing to me,” said Hojnicki. “Truly, the SimpliGov team jumped through hoops to get us online. They went above and beyond their normal process to help us out. The right people were on the calls to make it happen.”
The fact that SimpliGov is exclusively focused on government – and knows the needs of government inside and out – made the difference with unmatched time to value.
“The SimpliGov tool met every expectation we had for a government process automation solution with online forms,” said Hojnicki. “SimpliGov provides a bird’s eye view of everything happening. You can see where it is in the flow, and I really like the notification functionality.”
- Ease of use (with no coding required)
- Advanced functionality, such as notifications and integrated e-signature (SimpliSign by SimpliGov)
- Visibility & audit trail
- Lower cost of ownership
- Strong collaboration and support
The county was able to conduct an organized deployment of the online form, with support provided by the team at SimpliGov, a California-based company with a national footprint, now reaching Delaware. The county’s municipalities and fire companies are thankfully now getting reimbursed for COVID-19 expenses.
“The SimpliGov solution has represented New Castle County very well,” said Hojnicki. “Everyone from our county’s CFO to our legal team to the county folks have been impressed. SimpliGov is a quality system that can be trusted. This has caused us to stop and think of other opportunities to leverage the SimpliGov platform in other ways for future projects.”