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DTMB employees respond in times of crisis
April 29, 2020
Civil servants show their true mettle and value during times of crisis. The dedicated public employees at DTMB have done just that during one of the largest public health crises facing our nation in recent memory, the COVID-19 pandemic.
The department name is long - Technology, Management & Budget – to match the listing of services it provides government agencies. Everything from purchasing, mailing, and facilities to technology, logistics, and security all fall within its purview, allowing each government agency to focus on their critical missions.
Much of the work conducted by the dedicated team of experts at DTMB occurs out of the public eye, as they are not directly treating patients in a hospital or delivering the checks that help a family put food on the table. They are the ones making the cogs that turn the machine of public service.
Since the COVID-19 crisis began, DTMB employees have fully embraced the department mantra to Help. Connect. Solve. During National Public Service Recognition Week, it is important to bring to light the efforts of the team that works behind the scenes 24-7 to help keep Michiganders safe and healthy.
At the onset of the pandemic’s impact on Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued the Stay Home, Stay Safe order, requiring all state employees to immediately begin working from home to slow down the spread of the virus. Almost overnight, more than 27,000 state employees had to be able to complete their jobs from outside the office – and DTMB went into action.
The team expedited the deployment of hardware to essential staff, including 700 laptops in March and nearly 1,100 laptops in April. Michigan’s virtual private network (VPN) infrastructure was immediately doubled to support the new remote workforce model - allowing employees to securely access state of Michigan resources without compromising cybersecurity. VPN usage quadrupled to over 27,000 daily users. The previous peak was approximately 6,000 during a major weather closure.
Getting workers comfortable with remote work, especially for those that never worked outside the office before, was another hurdle DTMB helped clear. DTMB staff developed extensive communications and job aids, which were shared on the employee intranet portal, to ease the transition. The team created numerous instructional videos and manuals on topics such as cybersecurity practices at home, how to hold virtual public meetings, accessing shared files, and much more. For those that needed personalized help, the DTMB Client Service Center implemented their continuous operations plan to provide seamless service while working from home. Since March 11, they saw a 41% increase in call volume and have handled nearly 40,000 calls.
The state’s struggle to secure personal protective equipment (PPE) for frontline healthcare workers and other essential staff has been chronicled in media reports around the country. The staff in DTMB’s Central Procurement Services has been working around the clock, literally, to make sure Michiganders are protected. The team has followed up on nearly 3,000 leads, securing more than 100 million PPE and other critical medical supplies, such as beds, thermometers, ventilators, and more.
The immediate increase in demand for government services, coupled with the closing of brick-and-mortar offices, created an unprecedented surge in the use of online services. The MILogin single sign-on application provides a gateway to more than 200 state of Michigan online services, including unemployment registration. DTMB quickly mobilized a team to increase capacity and support for the unprecedented number of users. Prior to COVID-19, MILogin averaged slightly more than 1,000 transactions per hour. However, on April 13, the system handled 180,000 transactions in a single hour – a 17,000% increase.
Additionally, in a show of true dedication to the well-being of Michiganders, many employees from DTMB have volunteered to assist other departments on the frontline of COVID-19 response. There are now 45 DTMB staff members spending at least part of their time answering calls to DHHS’s COVID-19 hotline, making up 63% of the total hotline representatives. Another 59 employees are staffing the unemployment assistance hotline to help those recently laid off as a result of the pandemic.
There are countless other activities DTMB has been involved with since the start of the COVID-19 crisis in Michigan, such as securing hotel rooms for healthcare workers in Detroit, executing leases for alternative care sites at the TCF Center and Suburban Collection Showcase, delivering emergency goods from strategic national stockpile, and more.
The work done by DTMB team members is helping save lives in Michigan, and it’s helping state residents and families connect with the information and state resources they need to make it through this trying time. Since this work mainly occurs out of the limelight, it often goes unrecognized. Please take a moment this week, as we celebrate National Public Service Recognition week, to let the men and women at DTMB know their work is appreciated.