How digital transformation helped the Los Angeles County Development Authority become a “high performer”
The Los Angeles County Development Authority (LACDA) is responsible for the management of programs related to subsidized housing, community and economic development, and affordable housing development and preservation. Similar to most government agencies, paperwork is the starting point for much of the progress and growth at the LACDA, which can range from applications for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) to Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, to residents applying for business loans in an effort to build better lives and better neighborhoods.
This would be a large amount of paper for any government agency to physically file and manage. For us, an agency responsible for the nation’s most populous county, the amount of paper that accumulated over the years had slowly become unmanageable.
To ensure the LACDA was running efficiently and strategically across all facets of the agency, we had to find a solution to better manage paperwork. The challenge was finding a new system to store decades worth of records stemming from the hundreds of thousands of case files, while also looking for a solution that would integrate well with current property management and resource planning software solutions.
This was no small task, but we recognized that a new electronic records management (ERM) solution would be beneficial in the short and long term and, ultimately, give us the flexibility and ease-of-use necessary to scale operations at an agency of our size.
The solution: Digital records management
The LACDA worked with a proven technology vendor to implement a new electronic records management system that not only handled the storage of our records, but also allowed us to create new, automated processes for managing their lifecycle.
Prior to implementing the new ERM system, we had been storing our records in filing cabinets and various servers and systems. Now, documents are centralized and easily searched. Additionally, the new system integrated nicely with existing technology solutions, allowing us to make our operations more efficient across the agency.
With all of our records in one place, employees no longer mistakenly create duplicate documents, which was happening more than we’d like in the past due to the difficulty of finding original copies in our old storage system. There are countless moving parts at the LACDA — we currently manage 3,000 public and affordable units and operate a housing choice voucher program that serves more than 24,000 county residents — which creates a near endless supply of records stored across our system. Previously, employees had to search in numerous separate locations to find the appropriate records, but now these same individuals can easily and quickly pull up vital information in a moment’s notice.
Since implementing the new system, we’ve received positive feedback from our employees, who cite benefits such as time saved, having everything in one place and how the requisite information is now more available, accessible, and usable to authorized users.
Our new tool: Automation
We quickly realized that our new solution would not only serve as a virtual filing cabinet, but it also packed a more powerful punch through automation. With countless cases and corresponding documents, having the ability to automate specific processes in our system has been an invaluable enhancement. Documents are now automatically filed according to a standardized naming and folder structure, and the system provides alerts for when a record’s retention period has ended.
The LACDA serves a large number of people, keeping our employees extremely busy, so any way we can lessen their workload is incredibly valuable. By using automation to eliminate the manual tasks of finding, pulling and maintaining key records, we’ve been able to free up employees’ time for more important tasks and increase their job satisfaction.
Digital transformation success
In addition to all of this, our digital transformation has provided benefits that go beyond accessibility and automation. Because we have one central system for records, we have mitigated risk related to data loss and we now have greater control over information. Furthermore, with all of our processes documented, auditing (when necessary) has been simplified and streamlined.
These improvements have contributed to boosting our ranking with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, enabling LACDA to maintain the designation of “high performer.” In doing so, we were able to secure over 70% of the critical funding that allows us to provide greater services in the region. The increased funding has been crucial; the California housing crisis has increased demand for our agency’s services, while our staff numbers are almost half of what they were a decade ago. By embracing new technologies, however, we have been able to maintain the same level of service even with a lower employee count.
Today, we’re providing services to more residents than ever before, and always aiming to improve the level of support our agency offers. One way we’ve been successful in doing that thus far has been to identify opportunities within our IT department to become more efficient and deliver tech-driven solutions that transform the way people work, and enable them to better focus on our organization’s mission. Implementing technological productivity enhancements continues to allow us to do more of what got us into this work in the first place: enhancing the lives of citizens.
Doug Van Gelder serves as the senior IT professional responsible for the overall planning, organization and execution of all IT functions for the Los Angeles County Development Authority. His responsibilities include implementing and directing the design, coordination, maintenance and installation of the organization’s information technology systems. With more than 20 years of experience leading IT teams, Van Gelder is an expert in identifying business needs and delivering effective, timely and cost-effective technology solutions.