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EOTSS Annual Report 2022: Digital and Data Services

Massachusetts Digital and Data Services partner with organizations across state government to transform how residents, visitors, businesses and government agencies interact with the Commonwealth

Table of Contents

Overview

The EOTSS Digital and Data Offices set the enterprise policies, standards, and guidelines for their respective subject matter areas in coordination with the EOTSS Secretary and Commonwealth CIO.  

More importantly, they seek to help their partners use the best technology, design, and data to make every interaction with Massachusetts government simpler, faster, and more meaningful. They achieve their missions by collaborating with organizations across state government to improve the constituent digital experience and transform how residents, visitors, businesses, and government agencies interact with the Commonwealth.  

Digital Services

With the establishment of EOTSS in 2017, the EOTSS Secretary named the Commonwealth’s first Chief Digital & Data Officer (CDO), and MA Digital & Data Services was born.  

The team then embarked on an enterprise-wide digital transformation aimed at overhauling the legacy Commonwealth internet presence and replacing it with a new Mass.gov web platform. They also built out an organization to develop processes, standards, and solutions that make it easier for agencies to digitally deliver critical government services and information to their constituents.  

Mass Digital assists agencies throughout the entire digital project life cycle – from initial whiteboard sessions through to go-live. The team offers (among other services): 

  • Content Design & Writing to help create, edit, and optimize content – as well as to assist with digital marketing campaigns, search engine optimization, information architecture and social media.   

  • Video & Multimedia services such as live action videos, interviews, and motion graphic explainer videos. They also offer traditional photography and some audio recording services. 

  • Web Analytics services to help agencies gain more insight into how people engage with their content.  

  • Web Design services that help agencies build an easy-to-use, modern, accessible website to deliver their services.  

Mayflower design system

To further assist agencies and content editors across the enterprise with their digital projects, the Digital Team created the Mayflower open source design system and the Mass.gov Knowledge Base. Together, these tools provide self-service guides, tips, and best practices for authoring and updating content for Mass.gov and state web applications. 

Since 2019, they have overseen the creation of nearly 70,000 Mass.gov webpages generating more than 960 million pageviews across the platform! 

Digital Engagements 

2019 saw an increased demand for core digital and data service offerings, as well as in cross-secretariat and cross-agency engagements. Over the past 2+ years, they have participated in 28 separate engagements with agency partners across the enterprise.  

Examples include collaboration with the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development (EOLWD) on the creation of digital content and strategies for DFML and the rollout for the Commonwealth’s PFML system (as highlighted in the Cross-Agency Engagement section of this report), unemployment through re-employment journey mapping for the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA), and working with the Department of Public Utilities to develop the Ride sharing (TNC) data visualization site

COVID-19 Content 

As highlighted in the earlier COVID-19 Response section, the Digital and Data Teams were instrumental in the Commonwealth’s 2020-2021 pandemic response. They worked with DUA on Pandemic Unemployment content for Mass.gov and the accompanying Return to Work employer content. And, they created extensive digital and data content for the COVID Command Center, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS), and the Department of Public Health (DPH) as a part of the Commonwealth’s public health communications plan.  

Other COVID-19 efforts helped in the development and rollout of critical COVID testing and vaccine websites and supporting systems (such as chatbots). Examples of these websites and systems include: 

COVID-19 booster graphic

All told, MA Digital produced over 282 Mass.gov pages containing COVID-19 and related content, along with thousands of graphics in up to 20 languages across 100 different pandemic-related subjects. These graphics appeared on Billboards, in store windows, in businesses, in the MBTA bus shelters and train stations, on television, and in countless social media posts. They were also used by street teams and adopted by medical providers. Other States such as Oregon, Rhode Island, and California as well as the CDC Foundation asked to use the MA Digital graphics. 

Pandemic Alerting & Notifications 

For notifications and alerting, the team leveraged the EOTSS’ emergency alerting tool known as AlertsMA, in partnership with Everbridge, to create the AlertsMA for Residents notification portal that allows residents to sign-up for COVID-19 alerts by text, email, or phone call in multiple languages.  

Other Recent Engagements 

Amidst the Team’s tireless work on COVID-19 response efforts, they also managed to reach important milestones in their PFML engagement – including “go-live” with PFML in January 2021. EOTSS personnel acted as the Chief Product Officer, Product Managers/Product Owners, Content Strategists, and Data Analysts until the DFML team could hire directly for these roles to become self-sufficient. The Digital team planned, developed, and implemented the online portals for claimants and employers, created content and videos to explain the program to constituents, and built calculators so employees could estimate their benefits and employers their required contributions. By January 2022, the paid leave program distributed $501.3 million in total benefits to more than 75,000 claimants working for more than 19,000 unique employers.  

Last, but certainly not least, the Team continued their work in improving the Mass.gov platform and supported a content landscape analysis at the RMV. Through their “Findability” initiative, Digital improved the overall user experience on Mass.gov, for both desktop and users, through the addition of new topic pages, page headings, breadcrumbs, and alerting features. They also enhanced translation management features to improve multilingual content. For the RMV, the Digital Team conducted rapid discovery work and research culminating in the creation of a draft digital roadmap for RMV and recommendations for content improvements.  

Video & Multimedia Highlights 

Over the past two years, the Video & Multimedia team produced 200 videos and livestreams for 7 Secretariats, 24 agencies, the Governor’s Office, and the Attorney General’s Office.  

As part of the Governor’s re-employment initiative (MassHire), the MassHire Department of Career Services has upgraded JobQuest to release a number of new features and upgrades within the application. MHDCS began working with the Mass Digital multimedia staff in FY21 to produce six English motion graphics videos and six Spanish motion graphics videos to educate current and future users about the new features and upgrades in the application.  

 

In addition to videos, the team also produces livestream events for agencies. During the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Governor’s Office, the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and the Department of Veterans Services partnered with the Mass Digital multimedia team to produce a 35-minute virtual Veterans’ Day Ceremony that was livestreamed on social media and shared with broadcast television stations. The Mass Digital multimedia team was responsible for filming and editing the entire video. 

Other project highlights include Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) law enforcement training videos.  MPTC worked with the Mass Digital video staff to produce 17 Bridge Academy classroom videos and 11 Bridge Academy practical videos to educate 20,000 police officers throughout the Commonwealth. Topics include Single and Multiple Officer Response to an Active Shooter, Unknown Risk and High-Risk Motor Vehicle Stops, and Lifts and Carries. 

Data Office & Data Privacy

Since 2018, the Commonwealth has made great strides in building and improving on the legal and technical infrastructure necessary to facilitate data-driven government.  

The Chief Data Officer (CDO) for the Commonwealth oversees the EOTSS Data Office and is responsible for developing and governing the enterprise data and information strategy and facilitating data sharing amongst state agencies and the public. The CDO develops and maintains data procedures and policies, seeks to improve and streamline data systems within the organization, and drives innovation in the area of enterprise-wide data and analytics. 

In 2019, the EOTSS Secretary appointed the Commonwealth’s first Chief Privacy Officer (CPO) to strengthen enterprise leadership around data privacy and information governance. The CPO works specifically to establish privacy and security frameworks to protect the dissemination of sensitive data and to resolve data privacy and security concerns.  

The position works closely with the CDO and Data Office to review and offer feedback on data sharing agreements between state agencies. The CDO and CPO also support engagement with the Data Steward Council that was formed in 2018 in discussions of data sharing policies and data goals among executive branch agencies. Their combined efforts facilitate the deliberate and thoughtful use of data across agencies to inform policy choices and agency strategy. 

Data Sharing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

The Data Sharing MOU is an agreement that was signed between 62 executive branch offices and agencies in October 2018 to alleviate the confusion and red tape around inter-agency data sharing. It provides a common framework that sets expectations, rules, and processes around data sharing for agencies across the enterprise. The MOU demonstrates the Commonwealth's commitment to data sharing and to the protection and safe use of private and personal data.  

Data Use License Agreement (DULA) 

Under the MOU framework, Executive Branch agencies use DULAs to agree on the terms and details of data sharing for a particular purpose or project, and to ensure that all relevant laws and regulations are followed in the process. 

Data Steward Council (DSC) 

The DSC is responsible for establishing, reviewing, and implementing the statewide Data Sharing MOU and for advising on standards and protocols to help state agencies safely and securely share protected data. The Council is also available to facilitate the completion of DULAs and to help agencies troubleshoot any challenges that may arise in that process. DSC membership includes representatives from each Secretariat, plus the Governor's Office.  

Data Sharing MOU and DSC Results 

The framework and broader data-sharing program had resulted from work by the Governor's Cross-Secretariat Operational Council (XOC), which concluded that confusing rules and regulations, little support for data-sharing logistics, and the lack of a cost-effective replicable process limited agency data-sharing. The council reviewed 287+ bespoke data sharing agreements and found that they took 133 days, on average, to complete. 

Today, the average time to complete an MOU has dropped by 50% and the EOTSS Data Office has developed a broader data-sharing program, including managing legal and technical logistics, training data-sharing coordinators and stakeholders, and providing secure environments to pipe, store, and analyze protected data for data-sharing projects. 

Enterprise Data Projects 

Since October 2018, the Data Office has commenced and completed several multi-agency data-sharing projects. Early projects included the creation of public-facing data sites to meet the Department of Public Utilities’ (DPU) statutory reporting requirements for transportation network companies (TNCs) and the 2019 effort with the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to help address “churn” among SNAP recipients

In addition to playing a critical role in supporting the state’s COVID-19 response and cross-secretariat engagements (as outlined in other sections of this report), more recent Data Office accomplishments include: 

  • Learn to Earn: This ten-agency initiative was launched by the Governor's Office to make available de-identified, aggregated data about common clients of transitional assistance programs and how they progress towards economic stability. The Data Office stood up an architecture that intakes data from ten Education, Health and Human Services, Housing, and Labor and Workforce agencies and matches individual participants across programs to analyze patterns in how MA Massachusetts residents utilize transitional, training, and education programs, and how program participation correlates with employment. 44 staff across participating agencies now have access to data products for decision-making. After launching phase one of this critical initiative in October 2021, the team shifted focus in March to the Phase two of the project, with the goal of producing products by the end of FY22.   

  • Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS): In 2020-2021, the Data Office stood up an architecture that intakes data from seven Education and Health and Human Services agencies providing early childhood development programs and (for the first time) matches individual participants across programs to analyze patterns in how families utilize birth-5 programming by demographics, areas where families may be underserved, and how program participants perform on grades K-3 success metrics. 45 staff across participating agencies have access to data products for decision-making. The data has been used to examine the rate at which children combine and transition between key programs to identify service gaps. In the current phase of the project, improvements based on user feedback will allow users to cross-filter demographic categories and program combinations and view the data at more disaggregated geography to hone into specific gaps and service patterns, and allow users to look at enrollment differences pre- and post-COVID. 

  • HRD Diversity Dashboard: Built and launched a public-facing dashboard of the Commonwealth’s workforce focused on time trends and demographics. The product improved data transparency and allowed state agencies and the public to self-serve the data, cutting down the time HRD spends servicing internal and external reporting and information requests. Phase II, slated for completion in late 2022, will extend the product to employment flows – including hires, promotions, transfers, and terminations. 

  • Differential Privacy: From Oct 2021-Feb 2022, the Data Office worked in conjunction with MIT Lincoln Labs to adapt and implement a set of innovative statistical privacy tools developed at Harvard and explore their applications within administrative datasets to reduce barrier to data sharing and allow for more detailed and robust internal and public data reporting, while reducing risks to individual privacy. A pilot implementation focused on early childhood development programs is underway to evaluate applicability.

Massachusetts data hub

Lastly, the Data Office just launched the first phase of the Commonwealth’s new Data Hub. This new mass.gov portal offers new categorization and improved search functionality to help users more quickly and easily locate data published by state agencies on and off mass.gov. The Team has worked with 60+ agencies (and counting) to improve the content on their data pages, and to cross link data sets by topic to allow for broader search capabilities, eliminating the need for a constituent to be an expert on where certain data sets are kept, and by which agency. 

A Look Ahead for Digital and Data

Since the appointment of the Commonwealth’s first Chief Digital & Data Officer in 2017, the state has made great strides in improving the constituent digital experience and transforming how residents, visitors, businesses, and government agencies interact with government. Moreover, the Executive Branch has developed and maintained a robust data and information strategy to facilitate data sharing amongst state agencies and the public. Agencies are using data and data analytics to make more informed decisions with respect to policy choices, programs, and constituent services.  

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of citizen-centric digital services to increase access to essential services and ensure the continuity of government operations. COVID-19 also heightened interest in and the use of data analytics in agency decision making, communications, and policy choices.  

Today, the Chief Digital Officer and the Chief Data Officer positions have been bifurcated into separate roles within the EOTSS Senior Leadership Team. While they manage their respective teams and work towards different core missions, they frequently collaborate on EOTSS projects and cross-agency engagements given the overlapping nature of their business. 

Looking ahead, EOTSS plans to develop a roadmap to update the Commonwealth’s Digital and Data strategies over the next three years. They also plan to build off the momentum of the 2021 “Findability” and RMV initiatives to map out the next phase of Mass.gov content improvements using constituent feedback and web analytics to improve the user experience. 

Similarly, the Data Office seeks to expand the new Massachusetts Data Hub portal and build off the Commonwealth’s existing data-driven government framework to further promote inter-agency data sharing initiatives. They also plan to expand the Data Analytics program into a more formal application-based process whereby agencies can apply to EOTSS for business intelligence funding as well as services. 

Lastly, both teams plan to expand the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) – chatbots, virtual assistants, voice recognition, and commands. With the success of the COVID-19 and vaccine chatbots, they are working to now implement an enterprise chatbot that can be leveraged for the broader Mass.gov platform and agency business applications to connect the state’s residents, businesses, and visitors more efficiently with the information they seek.  

Date published: May 10, 2022
Last updated: May 10, 2022

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