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Home2015 Award Winners

2015 Mi-GMIS Annual Fall Conference Award Winners


Oakland County Awarded Best IT Project
G2G Cloud Solutions - Over the Counter Payments
 
 

Oakland County is committed to enabling as much technology sharing among governments as possible, and has provided enterprise  payment transaction processing services to its 62 local municipalities for many years. The  County's philosophy is that government  agencies can work together to create a  sustainable model for digital government by  sharing and leveraging technology for mutual  benefit. The next evolution of the County's enterprise payment service offering is the new Over the Counter Payments service, which  takes transaction processing to the cloud.  With this approach, Oakland County is  opening access to advanced payment  processing systems beyond its geographic borders. The new Over the Counter Payments system, offered through the County's G2G  Cloud Solutions, transforms workflow and  business processes associated with in-office,  point-of-service payment collection and  processing. Over the Counter Payments  allows government agencies to take credit  card payments in person at government  offices and service centers. Over the Counter Payments helps government agencies of any size, in any jurisdiction, to collect any type of  payment. The streamlined business  processes achieved with Over the Counter  Payments enables governments to contain or  reduce operating costs while improving  customer service for those who do business  with government. The Over the Counter  Payments service is a sustainable,  self-funding system that includes automated  transaction processing for a range of  government business functions. Government  agencies can accept payments for any type of  bill or fee, with fast receipt of funds and  real-time reporting and transaction monitoring.  Customizable payment options support any service, fee or payment type, and participating governments are able to fully configure custom  data fields for collection of payment  information. Over the Counter Payments is  innovative in its provision of secure transaction  processing and compliance with the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards  Council, a set of strict, comprehensive  requirements for enhancing credit card  payment account security. This compliance is  difficult to achieve, even for large credit card  payment processors, and as a result few  government agencies are able to attain it on  their own. Over the Counter Payments is also  innovative in its unique self-funding,  revenue-sharing model. Governments pay no  fees to use the Over the Counter Payments  service, and no credit card processing fees  are charged to governments. Participating  governments have the opportunity to benefit  from revenue-sharing from the collection of  Enhanced Access fees, as allowed under the  Michigan Enhanced Access Act (P.A. 462,  1996). The revenue produced by the collection  of Enhanced Access fees is used to pay for  credit card payment processing fees and to  help recover application development costs.  Any excess revenue is then shared back with  participating governments. Oakland County is  not in the position to profit from this initiative,  but rather seeks to recover the costs  associated with the technology development,  maintenance and support, as well as to drive  down the cost of conducting government  business for all participants. Over the Counter  Payments is an example of successful and  sustainable shared technology services for  government. New business processes and  additional payment options enable  participating agencies to operate more  efficiently. Without Oakland County's G2G Cloud Solutions, this technology would have  been unavailable to some participating  agencies due to resource and budget  constraints. By providing improved business  process models, end-to-end credit card  payment processing service, and ongoing  training and support for participating agencies,  Oakland County is demonstrating the benefits  of cross-jurisdictional collaboration and technology sharing.  The ongoing effects of the national economic  recession mean that many local governments  and smaller agencies continue to operate under cash shortages. Some governments are struggling to maintain existing services in an  environment of sharply declining revenues.  Many local governments, particularly smaller municipalities, lack the means or the funding  to implement technology solutions that could  help relieve pressure on operational budgets.  Through G2G Cloud Solutions, Oakland  County is extending a helping hand by sharing  the Over the Counter Payments solution. Over  the Counter Payments includes many benefits  to participating governments and the people  they serve. Chief among these is the  opportunity for governments to use advanced  enterprise technology in a shared services  model. The private cloud computing  architecture of the Over the Counter Payments  service supports reduced operating costs and  increased reliability, security, and privacy  protection for government data. Over the  Counter Payments also helps participating  governments achieve bottom-line successes  through the streamlined implementation and  maintenance of advanced technology  solutions. With the cloud-based Over the  Counter Payments service, governments are  not required to purchase costly hardware or  software in order to provide credit card  payment collection. Because Oakland County  provides training and ongoing support for  governments using the Over the Counter  Payments service, participating governments  have no need to hire additional specialized  technical staff to administer IT systems and  applications. Payments are automatically  transferred directly to each government's  account, with all payment funds going directly  to the collecting government agency.  Participating governments pay no fees to use  the Over the Counter Payments service. Credit  card processing fees are paid through the  collection of Enhanced Access Fees, instead  of by governments. In this way, governments  using Over the Counter Payments receive 100% of their collected payment funds. The  Over the Counter Payments service is a  sustainable, self-funding initiative that can be  used by any government regardless of size or  available budget resources. Benefits to  constituents include increased accessibility to  government and improved customer service  through the use of advanced cloud-based  enterprise technology. People doing business  with government benefit from a more positive  customer experience through the provision of  convenient payment options that are secure  and easy to use.

Over the Counter Payments  also helps governments to streamline  business processes while collecting a greater  number of payments. With a reduction in the  amount of time that is required to collect and  process payments, governments gain new  flexibility in task assignment as well as  increased employee productivity. Employees  who are no longer occupied with  time-consuming payment processing tasks  become available to perform other duties. Over  the Counter Payments has a proven record of  success in transaction automation,  operational savings, revenue generation, 
citizen service, and employee satisfaction.


Barb Hiemstra, Kent County Awarded IT Professional of the Year
 

Since taking on the role of Information Security Director, Barb has done an outstanding job of focusing the County's cyber security efforts. Up to that time, the work done by various IT teams were not well coordinated, and many things were done on an ad hoc basis. She changed that approach, and has prioritized activities based on achieving the most impact given the resources available.In addition, knowing that security is not just what IT can do but also depends on what the workforce does, she embarked on educating department management and our employees about appropriate security practices. This has the added benefit that what is security hygiene at the office also works for employees at home. Barb also engages the wider community. She is a founding member of the West Michigan Cyber Security Consortium, a group of private and public organizations that meet to exchange information about shared security concerns. Knowing that Michigan now has a cyber range available, Barb worked with the consortium to arrange what is now an annual "red team - blue team" exercise in the West Michigan area. This provides the opportunity for security professionals to engage in a spirited competition while strengthening their skills. She participates in other state and regional initiatives as well. As an example, Barb is on the IGNITE steering committee.She has worked relentlessly since taking on this position to better inform herself about security practices and issues. As mentioned in her bio, she holds a GIAC Security Leadership Certification and a GIAC Critical Controls Certificate. She is working toward yet another certification and attends as many educational opportunities as possible to make sure she stays current.