Harnessing the power of technology to make a difference in the lives of children and families
This interview marks the twelfth installment in the Making an Impact series, a collection of profiles and articles introducing some of our best and brightest leaders — individuals who are making tremendous impacts in the government sectors we serve.
Brian Shea, Vice President, Program Modernization Consulting
Brian leads a practice within the Program Modernization Consulting division, helping clients design and implement solutions to improve technology and program performance in the fields of child support, child welfare, and retirement systems. With over four decades of experience, he’s an expert at helping agencies solve the complex business challenges that come with modernizing public systems and programs.
We recently caught up with Brian on a Teams call, during which he shared insights on how governments can improve services to citizens, the importance of trust in client relationships, and why he’s still energized to work in child support.
You’ve dedicated most of your entire career to child support. What inspired you to go into this line of work?
I cannot say it was inspiration — more like fate. I was fortunate to be in the right place at the right time. I started working for the state of Maryland in 1976, just out of high school. I was working as a temporary office assistant in the personnel office when a friend told me about a new program called Child Support Enforcement — they were hiring hundreds of people! So I landed a job as an office assistant in that new program and worked in Maryland for 30 years. During that time, I rose through the ranks to eventually become the program’s executive director.
Looking back now, it is hard to believe that I have been working in child support enforcement for 45 years. The work has always been challenging. It’s never easy — but I have always been energized and proud to work in a program that helps improve the lives of children.
What do you love most about your job?
Over the years with the state of Maryland and then Maximus, I know my contributions have helped improve the child support program. Now that I am towards the end of my career, I take tremendous pride in knowing I was able to make a difference.
What about the challenges?
Helping clients rethink and redesign the way their systems and programs work is a very complex endeavor, to say the least. Every state agency is different, and so are their goals and challenges, so my team and I have to continuously ensure we’re laser-focused and tailor our solution to meet their unique requirements.
We are witnessing tremendous changes in child support technology. What excites me the most is how modern systems interact with caseworkers and customers… without the need for human intervention.
What most excites you most about working in child support technology?
We are witnessing tremendous changes in child support technology. Modern child support systems are very sophisticated compared to the systems states developed in the 80s and 90s. In addition, modern systems operate more efficiently from a technology perspective because of recent innovations like cloud computing and modular architecture. What excites me the most is how modern systems interact with caseworkers and customers. Modern systems have intelligent workflows that can automatically advance a case from one service to another without the need for human intervention. They can also proactively interact with customers to keep them informed about their case and allow customers to interact with caseworkers.
What do you think about the role of technology in improving government programs?
I think technology is the only way government agencies can significantly improve services to citizens. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded all of us of the power of technology. Without flexible automation, government services across the country would have been shut down or severely hampered. I am hopeful that state governors and legislatures will be more willing to invest in new technology post-pandemic.
Talk about what inspires you and what you aspire to.
I must go back to what I said earlier. I am inspired every day in knowing my team and I are helping our clients improve critical services to citizens. Because of the nature of our work, we often have long relationships with our clients. It is not unusual for our consulting engagements to last ten years!
As you can imagine, when you work day-in and day-out with the same client for many years, our team becomes part of the client’s organization. Our clients trust us to help them solve complex business challenges. It is this trust relationship that inspires my team and I to do the very best we can for our clients. It is what has always inspired me and always will.