An almost unbelievable chart from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services might shed some light on why they have been experiencing some computer issues.
Below is a flow chart from DHHS that *tries* to map out the IT systems at the department. DHHS officials said this chart was created sometime in the past but weren’t sure of an exact date. This is the most recently updated version:
Click here for a full size version of the PDF (Be warned, this will make your head hurt)
The department has been criticized lately for apparent computer malfunctions that were a result of a computer system put in place in 2010 during the tail-end of the Baldacci administration. Two computers that were supposed to “talk to each other” did not, resulting in the payouts of welfare benefits to people that were no longer qualified to receive benefits.
Computer problems are not a new phenomenon at DHHS, there have been issues with billing systems often, in the last seven years in particular, including a period in 2005 when providers were not being paid and welfare recipients were not receiving benefits.
The chart above shows how complex and complicated the various programs and intertwined systems are, suggesting the need for some simplification and efficiency in DHHS programs and structure.
Just last week, DHHS officials rolled out a plan to restructure the department, focusing on consolidating program areas and reducing staff. Department officials said the restructuring had nothing to do with the recent computer problems. Mary Mayhew, the Commissioner at DHHS, said the restructuring will result in “a stronger, more efficient and effective organization that uses its resources more efficiently and effectively to help Mainers in need.”
There is an interesting collection of items on the chart, although it’s unclear exactly how they are all connected. Below is a short of list of some curious items found on the chart in no specific order:
- University of Kansas
- Medical Marijuana
- Genetics Program
- University of Massachusetts
- Goodwill Industries
- ID (Moose Lottery Winner)
- Radioactive Material
While there certainly is a reason for why they appear on the DHHS Information Technology chart, it demonstrates how complex, and confusing, government systems can be.