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Recognizing individuals, government agencies and other public sector institutions that have advanced government technology through collaboration, innovation and service.

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Collaboration Project

A joint effort between two or more government agencies, two or more departments within a single agency, or between government agencies and private firms/non-profit organizations that use shared resources to create a new product or program; which resulted in improved service delivery to individuals, families and/or communities.

Collaboration Project #1
Direct Care and Treatment Policy Centralization, Direct Care and Treatment, Minnesota Department of Human Services

The Minnesota Department of Human Services' Direct Care and Treatment (DCT) was created in 2012 as an umbrella organization of direct service programs serving thousands of Minnesotans (Mental Health and Substance Abuse Treatment Services (MHSATS), Community Based Services (CBS), Forensic Services, and the Minnesota Sex Offender Program (MSOP)). In 2015 it was decided to centralize DCT policies and procedures into a uniform format and coordinated system. A team of DCT policy coordinators worked to develop a SharePoint-based policy intranet, format, and coordinated with subject matter experts to assimilate/update existing procedural material, develop/integrate new procedural material, and conduct ongoing review and update. This project began with rollout of the first few DCT policies on the DCT policy website on 3/3/15, and continues today. It has provided greater clarity to staff, clients, and the public, as well as ensuring that information remains current and is coordinated.

Collaboration Project #2
Bring GIS to K12 Education in Minnesota, Minnesota Department of Education

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is prevalent throughout local, state and federal government, as well as all 500 fortune 500 companies. Unfortunately, our K12 education system is not producing many students with GIS skills, including spatial and critical thinking and problem solving. To work through this issue the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) signed a license agreement with Esri of Redlands, CA to provide FREE GIS software to all K12 schools, districts and clubs in 2013. This project started in 2014 to develop and bring GIS training opportunities to teachers. Initially MDE developed a partnership with the Minnesota Alliance of Geographic Education (MAGE) at Macalester College, as well as the Minnesota GIS/LIS Consortium and Minnesota Geospatial Information Office (MnGeo) to develop hands-on training workshops. By partnering with local, regional and state GIS professionals around Minnesota, it allowed training sites to be developed and put on all around the state. Between 2014 and 2017 over 60 workshops were put on and over 500 teachers attended. Many of these teachers attended more than one worksop. From this, GIS usage accounts jumped from less than 10 to over 230. Each account could add many teachers and students, free of charge. Besides training a geo-mentor program was also started to bring teachers and GIS professionals together to get questions answered, do in school development and class projects and general GIS help. Because the training was going so good the project started a Minnesota student GIS mapping competition by 2016. By collaborating with other state agencies, the GIS/LIS Consortium and GIS professionals are competition provided free t-shirts and google docs to get students and teachers started. The 2016 competition had over 220 students compete and ten winners received $100 each, again brought together through a collaboration process for funding. One teacher remarked, "It was the most fun kids had all year." Again, because this project had so much success, three other states copied Minnesota AND Esri started a National Competition in 2017. Over 25 states competed and the overall High school winner was from Duluth Denfeld High School (Minnesota rocks again!). Lastly, the project started a collaboration with GIS/LIS Consortium to hold a one day (all-day) hands on training the first day of their statewide conference in October. In 2015 and 2016 the conference was in Duluth and there were 126 teachers taking part. Due to the collaboration, funding again was found to pay for teachers substitutes, thus they only had to get there. Everything else was paid. This will be part of the statewide conference for many years to come, including the upcoming teacher training on October 4,2017 ( This is an ongoing project and has many collaborators. It has been a large task but Minnesota will reap the benefits for years to come as students enter college with increased spatial and critical thinking skills.

Collaboration Project #3
Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), Hennepin County and State of Minnesota Fourth Judicial District

The primary concept of this effort was to create a bidirectional federation trust relationship between Hennepin County and 4th Judicial Court that leverages Lync, Exchange, and SharePoint resources in day-to-day court business. A trust federation is a legal and technical framework for two organizations to share data.

Both parties signed a trust agreement outlining the obligations of each party to secure, safeguard and control access to the other party's systems.

Microsoft's Active Directory Federation Services is a software component that uses a claims based access control authorization model to maintain application security and to implement federated identity.

Using Federated Services is a more secure and efficient system than email files. Information sharing is limited to routine non-private business information and other data that is approved by both organizations.

Completion of this effort has resulted in:

  • Enhanced security protocols and user access protections
  • Easier and better collaboration across jurisdictions
  • Increased business efficiency and transparency
  • Reduced administrative burdens and worry over missed messages
  • Established foundational agreements and technology that can be reused with other jurisdictions and partners

Collaboration Project #4
UI2 (Utility Infrastructure Integration), Hennepin County

The UI2 is a web-mapping application, developed by the Hennepin County GIS Office, which displays the locations and details of infrastructure and utility projects within County. Participating agencies (including government and private sector) are able to load their project information and view the information of other agency's projects. Projects contain core attributes such as status (planning, design, construction, etc.) and the application contains the ability to filter by status, type, owner and data and provides other information such as key contacts, duration, project description, if a moratorium is present or planned. Additional features include automated notification when a new project is entered within 1000 feet of an existing project and the ability to track changes to projects and send out notices accordingly.

The project is exemplary for several reasons. First, it demonstrated an 'early and often' approach to engaging leadership. Buy in from top elected officials was a priority for the effort, and keeping their attention focused on the bottom line savings this project has the potential to yield, Hennepin County maintained consistent and enthusiastic support from its county commissioners.

As a planning tool, the UI2 application facilitates a front-line awareness of upcoming projects that require excavation so road replacement or other subsurface work can be better aligned to reduce conflict, reduce redundant effort and ultimately, to save taxpayer money. This project is emblematic of how technology can be a spring board for fosters connectivity and communication across agencies personnel, enhancing mutual awareness of their shared needs and enabled them to program work efforts to maximize their efforts while minimizing costs.

Hennepin County has been working with major utility providers (Center Point, Xcel Energy, etc.), several cities in Hennepin County, MnDOT and the Metropolitan Council for the development and deployment of the UI2 application. This project has now started conversations with other counties about the value of this approach and there is an opportunity to share with, and in the longer term to include, other counties to leverage the benefits of the application. The project was started as a concept in early 2016 and the first version was deployed in July 2017. It's launch and subsequent use by the participating members has led to discussions about expanding beyond Hennepin County into the entire metropolitan region.

Collaboration Project #5
Minnesota Housing Multifamily Customer Portal, Minnesota Housing

For three years, our staff collected feedback from customers to improve the experience of applying for funding to develop affordable rental housing. To eliminate duplication of work, improve tracking systems, clarify roles and responsibilities, and increase overall efficiency, we developed a Multifamily Customer Portal using Salesforce. Developers used to apply for millions of dollars in financing by downloading materials on our website and submitting hard copies of their application - often totaling as many as 500 pages - in addition to submitting materials electronically through This was very resource intensive in both customer and staff time and wasted paper. It was not always clear or easy to determine which documents were needed for a proposal, because every proposal was different and the many funding sources they applied for had different requirements. The customer had no visibility into their application after submission and could not see all of their applications in one place. On the staff side, our previous database took approximately 45 minutes per application to manually import the data. Our average funding round receives 80-100 applications, so the staff time to upload this information was very inefficient and it took days to access application information after the due date. Our new Portal allows our customers to apply for funding for several projects in one place and custom-build their application checklist so they know exactly what to submit. We also had a completely paperless application round. The Portal allows staff easy access to project data and greater flexibility to build reports. In an already tight timeline to process applications, earlier access to report data after the due date allows staff to start on application review sooner. The Portal was launched for our 2017 RFP, and has received positive feedback from customers and staff. During this first funding round, 91 customers worked on 88 proposals in the Portal. In a typical annual competitive RFP cycle, we select 25-30 developments for funding with housing tax credits and/or deferred loans. The Portal is still under construction for a fall release, which will allow customers and staff to work through the next phase of the financing for selected applications to coordinate all the work needed to get to the closing table. Having a dedicated team working together was key in making this a success. At Minnesota Housing, the core team consists of three subject matter experts (SME) from our business team and three SMEs from our technology team working collaboratively to design and launch the Portal. The core team meets regularly to discuss business processes, determine how to customize Salesforce functionality to improve our day-to-day work, and to develop training resources for customers and staff. It was critical to have this team think creatively and to be open to making changes to business processes. It was also vitally important to have the support of leadership.

Collaboration Project #6

What makes BuffCAT exceptional is that it is a creative and valuable application of GIS technology targeting a specific enforcement of a new law. BuffCAT was custom developed to allow for this systematic and consistent approach to collecting data related to buffers utilizing GIS mapping and a mobile collector application for use in the field. BuffCAT is also critical to validating success and the progress within the 500,000 parcels which need state review. BuffCAT tracks this progress while reducing administrative time and costs.

The project had limited resources as BWSR has a very small number of IT staff. This meant we needed resources and skills available elsewhere to partner with at other agencies to deliver. Using project fundamentals of a project charter, executive sponsor team, project schedule, and regular status reporting kept the project on track and managed the impact of resource constraints. Because stakeholder buy-in was needed and there was also a limited budget and tight timeline, the team decided to make a prototype using technology well understood by IT that was also uniquely suited to the business needs, ArcGIS Online. The team validated that the required datasets were available and that one statewide map would meet the business need, then created a prototype in about two months for BWSR business and SWCD end users to interact with. By using a prototype, end users were able to visualize the user interface and workflows with real data and improved both collaboration and agility by ensuring stakeholders had a say in how things looked and functioned. The feedback from the prototype was used to make design decisions for the final statewide application.

Start to finish, the business need was met in approximately seven months, giving SWCDs a full year of use of BuffCAT in order to make the compliance assessments needed for public waters, and two years for public ditches. This was an impressive delivery time to take an idea from a concept to an in production application. It could not have been accomplished without the collaborative effort of BWSR staff, BWSR and DNR MNIT staff, and the staff at the SWCDs. True collaboration and sharing of resources and skills makes this effort special.

By the end of 2016, over 90,000 parcels of land have been reviewed by districts with BuffCAT. In one particular day, more than 6,000 parcels were reviewed and edited by SWCD staff around the state! Those two metrics alone signify the strength of the effort and the benefits of the new application. Progress continues and is measurable each day. BuffCAT data is used to generate a compliance map showing the percentage of buffer compliance by county. You can see this map here: Being able to demonstrate progress with a visual is beneficial to the buffer law, the conservation districts, and the state agencies working to improve water quality.