SGIA Award Winning Projects- 2017

2017 SGIA Winners

**Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Vocational Rehabilitation Services – : Way to Work Project

The Way to Work Project (WTW) is a pilot project that tests a new approach to providing employment services to individuals with significant disabilities in Dakota County – individuals who previously were assumed to be “too disabled to work” in competitive employment. Since the project began in late 2015, 144 people with disabilities have expressed an interest in seeking competitive, integrated employment in the community and 94 have followed through and applied for services from the Vocational Rehabilitation program.  Of these, 30 individuals have found jobs in the community and are now earning between $9.50 and $11.00 per hour. They are earning an income and paying taxes, and are consequently less dependent on federal and state benefits than before. An additional 32 people are now actively engaged in a community-based job search, and 21 are developing their career plans. The WTW project in its current form will sunset on June 30, 2017, but the essential elements will be adopted by the partners in slightly different form. DEED/VRS intends to adapt and expand the best practices of the WTW project throughout its statewide service delivery system   The Way to Work project is a collaboration that includes DEED/Vocational Rehabilitation Services, Dakota County Social Services, the Department of Human Services, and ProAct Inc.


**Metropolitan Council: Government Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative

The Governmental Solar Garden Subscriber Collaborative is an initiative that involved 31 government partners, including Hennepin and Ramsey counties, the City of Minneapolis, and Metro CERTs, among others. The group jointly solicited competitive proposals from solar vendors who offered solar participation via subscription, rather than local governments installing solar panels on their own property. Community Solar Gardens create an opportunity for local government entities to support clean energy and its positive local economic impacts, save on energy bills for public facilities, and hedge against the future price volatility of electricity, all while not having to install solar onsite. The Council is one of the largest energy users in the metro region and these gardens will result in $5 million in cost savings, as well as emissions reductions over the next 25 years for Minnesota tax and ratepayers and residents.


**Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: Statewide Air Quality Index Forecasting

On June 1, 2017, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) launched a new statewide air quality index (AQI) forecasting program. By expanding forecasts from two to 17 locations, Minnesotans everywhere can better plan their daily outdoor activities. MPCA Meteorologists innovatively use artificial intelligence, automated weather prediction and meteorological expertise to create statewide forecasts efficiently, while also maintaining their work as regulatory air dispersion modelers. MPCA’s AQI forecasting program is doing more with less, saving $50,000 per year in external forecasting fees, and potentially up to $200,000 for a similar statewide forecasting service.  As a part of the new program, air quality alerts are now much easier for the meteorologists to issue. MPCA worked with the National Weather Service (NWS) to create customized alerts so that any of the six NWS offices serving Minnesota can help get alerts out quickly.  MPCA also successfully collaborated with the Minnesota Department of Health and the Minnesota Department of Transportation to improve the alert messages.  Air quality alert messages include specific actions people can take to reduce their exposure and contribution to poor air quality.


Minnesota Department of Administration: Combined Approach to Increasing Diversity & Inclusion

The State of Minnesota has long striven to ensure equitable access to state contracts by historically disenfranchised businesses, including businesses owned by women, minority, and people with disabilities. However, the State has fallen short of goals for inclusive contracting. Beginning in 2014, the Department of Administration initiated a comprehensive effort to diagnose and solve the disparities in state purchasing. Admin’s Office of State Procurement designed innovative training, outreach efforts, and supplier diversity dashboards to drive cultural change and deliver real results across the enterprise. The result has been expanded internal and external awareness of the State’s existing certified small business program, expanded outreach to the vendor community, simplified processes for vendors, and understanding by purchasers of what it is like to bid on state work. These expanded efforts have increased spending with certified small businesses and generated data to inform future efforts.


Minnesota Department of Administration: State Government Innovation for Recycling Upgrades

The Minnesota Department of Administration partnered with the Pollution Control Agency and the Chamber of Commerce’s Waste Wise Foundation to develop a new and improved recycling program for the Capitol Complex. Using private sector best practices, and improving upon them through research and employee focus groups, we designed an innovative program that has reduced trash by 40 percent in less than a year and the recycling rate is nearing 80%. In total more than 54 tons of organics were collected from the complex during the first three months of 2017. We anticipate that over the next few years the Capitol Complex will achieve a recycling rate of over 90%, essentially making us a zero-waste workplace.


Minnesota Department of Agriculture: MDA Food Business Licensing and Food Safety Wizard

The Minnesota Department of Agriculture (MDA) Food Business Licensing and Food Safety Wizard is a web-based tool enabling anyone wanting to make or sell food in Minnesota to more quickly get a food license. The tool walks aspiring new business owners through a simple series of questions presented in plain language to help them determine the proper type of license they need and the next steps for starting their new food business. The web-based licensing tool is multilingual – available in English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong – and formatted to fit mobile screens to make it easy-to-use and accessible. This wizard is an innovative solution to help Minnesotans navigate the laws and get critical information on starting-a-food-business information prior to their initial meeting with an inspector before opening their business.


Minnesota Department of Human Services & Minnesota State Board of Investment: The Minnesota ABLE Plan

The Minnesota Department of Human Services, in consultation with the State Board of Investment, administers the Minnesota ABLE Plan. ABLE allows nearly 6,000 Minnesotans with disabilities to save money without affecting their eligibility from public programs, like Medicaid or SNAP. Minnesota partnered with 14 other states with the goal of offering an ABLE program with low account fees, achieved through economies of scale. DHS met this outcome and the Minnesota ABLE Plan has some of the lowest fees of any unsubsidized ABLE program in the nation. 


Minnesota Department Of Natural Res - Parks and Trails Div. Self-Service Action Team

Minnesota Department of Natural Resources redesigned services for visitors to the state’s 75 parks and recreation areas. To serve a broader customer base, parks now offer more convenience, flexibility and certainty to enjoy the outdoors. Continuous improvement methods, pilot testing, and input from customers and park staff informed the changes: • Same-day reservations can now be made online or at self-service kiosks in the parks, without a reservation fee. • Daily and annual state park permits are now available for purchase online. • Hundreds of previously "first-come, first-served" campsites are now available for reservation. These previously non-reservable sites made up 25 to 30 percent of sites at each campground. Last year, 1 million campers and 9.5 million visitors enjoyed Minnesota parks. 


Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension: Electronic Search Warrant Application

The Bureau of Criminal Apprehension created a new system that allows the entire search warrant application and approval process to be completed electronically. Law enforcement officers now complete and submit search warrant applications to judges on any day at any hour. Judges then review and sign or reject the applications electronically. This results in improved efficiencies, greater security, and measurable savings in time and money.  eSearch Warrants replaces an antiquated paper system that required officers to drive paper documents to judges and duplicate entry of documents into records management systems. More than 3,000 warrant have been processed in the new system since the statewide rollout in April 2017.


Minnesota Department of Transportation- hydraulic Inspection Vehicle Explorer (HIVE)

Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) District 6 personnel developed HIVE, a radio-operated car modified with lights and a video camera that sends images to a tablet held by an inspector. The device uses off the shelf hobby shop equipment to provide the needed data for managing the pipes and culverts under and adjacent to the state’s highways. One person can do the work of multiple people in developing construction project price estimates by producing better data at the right time. The results after HIVE inspections revealed that 82 percent of culverts were downgraded when culvert defects that were readily observable were found underneath the road. District 6 personnel, who have expertise in radio-operated vehicles outside of their jobs at MnDOT, built similar machines for MnDOT’s other seven districts and catalogued the assembly and parts.


** Indicates Video Award Winner- Videos showen to the right

SGIA 2017: Way to Work

SGIA: Government Solar Subscriber Collaborative

SGIA 2017: Statewide Air Quality Index Forecasting