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Overview of the Department of Transitional Assistance—Information Security

This section describes the makeup and responsibilities of the Department of Transitional Assistance and its information security.

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The Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) was established by Sections 1 through 39 of Chapter 18 of the Massachusetts General Laws, as amended, and is under the purview of the Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS). DTA’s information technology (IT) is administered by EOHHS. According to its website, DTA “assists and empowers low-income individuals and families to meet their basic needs, improve their quality of life, and achieve long term economic self-sufficiency.” 

DTA is organized into five regional areas and 22 transitional assistance offices, located throughout the Commonwealth, that are responsible for providing direct services to those seeking assistance. DTA had approximately 1,630 employees during fiscal year 2019. According to its annual organizational report for fiscal year 2019, DTA administered “four primary programs that receive both state and federal funding”: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC); Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC); and Supplemental Security Income (SSI). The annual report states,

SNAP benefits help families supplement their food budgets to afford nutritious food. . . .

TAFDC . . . provides financial assistance to families with children, and pregnant women, with little or no assets or income. . . .

EAEDC is a state funded program, which provides financial assistance to certain adults who are elderly or disabled . . . as well as children. . . .

The SSI program is a federal program that provides cash assistance to the elderly, disabled, and blind.

The predecessor agency of the Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) was the Massachusetts Office of Information Technology, which had a supervisory role over IT at executive branch agencies within the Commonwealth, including DTA. On August 1, 2017, EOTSS was formed by the Governor with the goal of consolidating more IT functions in executive branch agencies into a central agency. EOTSS oversees all IT in the Commonwealth. State agencies such as DTA are required to establish policies and procedures to ensure compliance with EOTSS requirements.

DTA’s primary information system to administer benefits for SNAP, TAFDC, EAEDC, and SSI is the Benefit Eligibility and Control Online Network (BEACON) system. DTA workers enter information about each client into BEACON, which is programmed to determine each client’s eligibility and benefit amounts, keep track of when clients have to meet with caseworkers, and create notices to send to clients concerning their benefits. A secondary system, Caseview, is also used at three transitional assistance offices to track cases assigned to the offices.

Additionally, DTA uses the Human Resource Compensation Management System (HR/CMS), a Commonwealth application used to administer payroll and other human resource functions. HR/CMS is managed by the Commonwealth’s Human Resource Division.

Date published: January 6, 2020

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