Governor Larry Hogan today announced that the Maryland Department of Human Resources (DHR) was awarded over $195 million in federal funding to build a groundbreaking technology platform that will transform the state’s ability to deliver vital human services to Marylanders. Maryland’s Total Human-services Information Network, or MD THINK, is a cloud-based data repository that will break down traditional silos and data barriers between state agencies and provide integrated access to programs administered by agencies including DHR, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Department of Juvenile Services, and the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation. The administration dedicated nearly $14 million in funding for this effort in the FY 2017 budget.
“MD THINK, the first program of its kind in the nation, will completely transform our ability to deliver vital human services to Marylanders and finally bring our service delivery into the 21st century,” said Governor Hogan. “With MD THINK, we will have the ability to provide help to Marylanders where they are and when they need it through a holistic approach to care that cuts through the bureaucratic red tape.”
“I very distinctly remember showing our plans to the governor for MD THINK 16 months ago and explaining how this new approach can improve service delivery to the vulnerable children and families,” said Sam Malhotra. “The governor’s commitment to this project is the reason why we are here. The $14 million in funding the administration invested in this effort is now a $200 million program to help Maryland children and families.”
To unveil MD THINK, Governor Hogan was joined by Lt. Governor Boyd Rutherford, DHR Secretary Lourdes Padilla and Deputy Secretary Greg James, Secretary of Juvenile Services Sam Abed, Labor Secretary Kelly Schulz, as well as Chief of Staff Sam Malhotra, who had the original vision for MD THINK during his tenure as DHR Secretary, and advocates from leading social services organizations.
MD THINK is the product of two years of work by DHR and other agencies to develop an innovative design and project plan to modernize the state’s human services technology infrastructure and customer service process. MD THINK’s use of a scalable, pay-as-you-go, cloud-based platform is expected to deliver significant cost savings, streamline program operations, and increase agency productivity. Most importantly, enhanced data analytics will better enable state agencies to deliver the highest levels of service to Marylanders. The state applied for federal funds in November 2016, and $195 million in funding was awarded in February 2017. The General Assembly released $13.8 million from the administration’s FY 2017 budget in February 2017, allowing the state to access the federal funds and move forward with the development of MD THINK.
Phase one of MD THINK will focus on revolutionizing service delivery for the most vulnerable Marylanders, including children in foster care, disconnected youth, and families in need. For the first time, caseworkers will be provided tablet devices, enabling them to provide services in the field as opposed to having to return to a central location to input data, saving time and resources.
Improving customer service and making state government more efficient and effective are among the core promises Governor Hogan made to Marylanders during his campaign. The administration became focused on the need for a statewide revamp of technology infrastructure after the riots in Baltimore, when it became clear that, while the state had data showing areas of poverty, areas of high unemployment, and areas with transportation challenges, that data wasn’t able to be used in a holistic manner to help the state determine how to best direct resources. The administration recognized the need to move state government systems into the 21st century.