PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Governor Gina M. Raimondo directed the Department of Human Services to immediately begin offering extended hours two days a week at the Providence DHS Field Office in an effort to reduce lobby wait times and assist customers with their applications for benefits. Additionally, the Governor also announced today that at her urging, Deloitte will immediately assign additional managers – at no additional taxpayer cost – to supervise technical staff in the DHS Field Offices and better manage regular data reports about the new system.
"We've been running the same eligibility software system since the Reagan administration. We need to bring our health and human service systems into the 21st century. Without question and as expected, there have been some challenges and issues with our transition to a new, modern, digital platform. After hearing about long wait times at DHS office, I visited the Providence Field Office last week to talk with employees and customers, some that had been waiting hours to meet with staff. I can hardly imagine their frustration," said Governor Raimondo. "Big system transitions like this take time, but that acknowledgement doesn't make it easier for a mom who has to wait half a day at a field office to get her application approved. By extending the office hours two times a week and enhancing our management team, we will improve our ability to process applications and offer services at a more convenient time for many of our customers."
Starting tomorrow and continuing until further notice, the Providence DHS Center (206 Elmwood Avenue, Providence) will extend customer hours until 6:30pm every Tuesday and Wednesday. The Providence Field Office will be equipped to assist Rhode Islanders from every part of the state.
"I appreciate Council 94's partnership to expand service hours and recognize the dedicated work our DHS employees are putting in to provide better customer service for the people we serve," Raimondo said.
Last month, in partnership with the state's largest federal partner, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Rhode Island's health and human service agencies switched to a new eligibility system, replacing a 30+ year old software platform. To transition to the new system, which serves nearly 320,000 Rhode Islanders, the state transferred more than 400 million fields of data from the old platform to the new one. As anticipated, the state has experienced some issues with the new system that have impacted customer service and contributed to increased wait times at the DHS service centers. However, the overwhelming majority of customers are able to use the system without any significant issue and most issues have been resolved within days of being identified.
Rhode Island's comprehensive, modern, digital health and human services eligibility system will improve customer service in the long term, ensure that the state is delivering the right services to the right people at the right time, and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars in just a few years by expanding protections against waste and fraud and more efficiently connecting people to services.