Lincoln – A three-year, $607,000 grant has been awarded to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services by U.S.D.A.’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to improve processes and technology for programs served by ACCESSNebraska.
“With the help of this grant, our service to Nebraska’s most vulnerable citizens through ACCESSNebraska can continue to improve customer service,” said Governor Pete Ricketts. “DHHS has turned around the services offered through ACCESSNebraska in the past year, which is key to their mission of helping Nebraskans live better lives.”
“This grant will help DHHS be even more efficient in providing ACCESSNebraska services and improve communication between staff and clients,” said DHHS CEO Courtney Phillips. “We’ve made great progress since 2015 in the timely processing and responsiveness, and with this grant we will continue to grow our customer service.”
The grant will fund the development of three projects in 2017:
- Electronic communication boards in Customer Service Centers in Fremont and Scottsbluff and ACCESSNebraska Document Imaging Centers in Omaha and Lincoln will provide workers real time phone data, such as call wait times, and progress on scanning documents to better manage their work. Other information will include productivity tips and other employee-related news.
- Capability to text message clients to remind them of appointments and notices of information sent to their email. Preliminary tests have shown an increase in attendance at appointments and information is provided quickly to clients which improves their responsiveness so benefits are provided faster and more efficiently.
- Workforce management software will assist in forecasting work load and where resources need to be applied to complete the work. The software will be applied first to the ACCESSNebraska phone system.
“Staff is excited to see these projects funded,” said Doug Weinberg, director of Children and Family Services. “Implementing them will help us continue our improved customer service and provide timely benefits to our clients.”
The most-recent report from FNS said ACCESSNebraska’s SNAP processing rate improved to 95.05 percent for October 2015-March 2016. With a margin of error 4.23 percent, the high end of the state’s rate is 99.28 percent. The adjusted higher percent had to pass a federal requirement of 95 percent in order for the threat of a loss of funds could be lifted.
FNS said in the report that ACCESSNebraska’s national ranking was 23rd. In August 2014, FNS placed Nebraska at 53rd, which was last in the country.
Call wait times for ACCESSNebraska this year have remained below 5 minutes. In August, clients’ calls were answered with an average wait time of only 3 minutes 47 seconds.
Expectations are heightened as recent monthly reports show even higher processing rates. In August, 99 percent of all SNAP applications were completed within federal processing timelines with 36 percent of all applications process the same day they were received. The projects funded by the grant will continue to enhance customer services to increase same-day services.