COVID-19 has brought about big changes in government benefits programs, with many agencies leaning heavily on outside partners for the first time. Faced with new choices in managing how work gets done, and who’s best suited to do it, governments are reevaluating the ongoing role that private companies should play.
Should they be viewed as essential partners (even after COVID-19 begins to subside), or should they simply be thought of as a stopgap during times of overwhelming public need? The answer is, it depends on what they bring to the table. Some will have the program and policy know-how to help government programs adapt and evolve. Others will not.
Let’s face it, government policy and program rules are complex. Knowing the risks of failure are high, agencies have traditionally maintained control over operations. So what would make them surrender some of that control to a contracted partner? First, the partner must demonstrate they can fill a gap in competency better. Second, they must prove they have the knowledge, skills, and ability to seamlessly augment program services. And third, if they want to have longevity, they must prove they can make life easier for the agency.
Unemployment programs, for example, were initially skeptical that an outside partner could support complex tasks like claims adjudication. Yet Maximus has supported unemployment programs in 17 states. Impressed with our efficiency, one client recently said to us, “You guys are actually doing this faster than our state workers. How?” Let’s see if we can break it down.
What to consider to close gaps in efficiency
Exceeding expectations doesn’t happen by accident. When evaluating a partner, look for five key attributes that can help you reduce gaps in budget, talent, technology, and consumer experience.
Speed to impact. Partners should understand what success looks like and how to replicate it across government programs quickly. Drawing on best practices from our global toolbox, we’re able to create repeatable processes that have a high degree of success. We know from experience how to implement what we say, when we say, and for how much we say.
Scalability (up or down) Need 40 people this week, 400 next week, and only 50 two months from now? Need to reassign your resources to more pressing tasks? It all comes down to how quickly a contractor can scale and adapt to your needs, without compromising performance, productivity or quality? After all, putting more people on a problem doesn’t necessarily help if they can’t perform at or better than a state’s standard for performance.
”Complex problem-solving. Contractors come in all shapes and sizes — many have narrow areas of expertise while relatively few have all three competencies (operational, technical, and managerial) needed to run a government program. What you need are experienced professionals who can help solve complex delivery problems to produce outcomes that matter to government.
Government-only focus. Lots of companies want to apply solutions that are designed for commercial markets to government programs. Needless to say, you can’t expect just any corporate contractor to do work that government has traditionally handled. At Maximus, government is all we do, and all we’ve done for 45 years. Our approaches and supporting technologies are designed exclusively with the needs of government in mind.
As you know, there’s a whole new level of complexity today — new government programs, new rules, new populations seeking benefits, new volume levels. It’s important to have a partner that adds real value, whether it’s providing a higher-quality citizen experience, adjusting workflow to reduce process bottlenecks, maintaining compliance with federal requirements, or executing next-step activities such as verifications, redeterminations, and appeals.
Capacity and flexibility. In this virtual COVID world, our workforce brings highly transferrable skills that allow us to move from program to program, and state to state, bringing scalability and capacity for however long you need us. Across our portfolio, we handle more types of government applications, program compliance requirements, and payments than anyone.
With more than 20,000 specialists working out of more than 60 locations across 30 states, we were able to help our government clients respond to COVID-19 by keeping programs open and adapting to change. Since the start of the pandemic, we’ve hired, screened, trained, and deployed nearly 6,000 additional home-based professionals to support contract tracing, unemployment, and other COVID-related services.
Turning temporary problems into long-term partnerships
We know that sometimes being the best partner means working ourselves out of a job. Certain work — like responding to today’s surge of applicants — is temporary and doesn’t require a long-term solution. That’s why Maximus not only offers governments effective fixes for their short-term challenges, but greater flexibility and agility to adapt to changing times. By being a strategic partner over the long term, we can help you plan for a better future — and provide the certainty we all want in this highly uncertain world.