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Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS), Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC)

Published Date: 
Dec 02, 2010

The Missouri Public Service Commission (MPSC) has made a very promising start in fulfilling the State's vision of introducing eGovernance in Missouri. This integrated Web-enabled case management and communications system allow seamless, secure and controlled interactive access to all internal staff, Interveners, Commissioners, Utilities and Ratepayers. It is a complete Internet power eRegulation system for B2B and B2C and B2G interaction. This system was designed to cater all the commission internal staff and over 7,000 external users in the foreseeable future providing user-friendly yet interactive facility for information exchange. Approximately 300 - 500 concurrent users are using this system implemented by HCL.

What You Need to Know

The Commission regulates investor-owned public utility companies operating in the State of Missouri. It is responsible for ensuring that consumers receive safe and reasonably priced utility services at rates that will provide an opportunity for the utility companies' shareholders to earn a reasonable return. The Commission balanced a variety of competing private interests to ensure the overall public interest.

Case Study

The MPSC regulates over 1,400 investor-owned and other electric, natural gas, telephone, water and sewer utilities. It is both a quasi-judicial and quasi-legislative agency and is responsible for deciding Public Utilities related cases brought before it and for the promulgation of administrative rules and their enforcement. Hearings are conducted in contested cases in a trial like setting using evidentiary standards. The MPSC must make timely decisions not only to extend the procedural and substantive due process to all parties, but also to comply with statutory time limits.

Business Challenges

The Commission worked primarily on paper-based information and antiquated electronic information systems. The annual caseload was expected to increase at an average rate of 20% per year for the immediate future. As a result, information within the PSC, as well as information between the PSC, the utility companies and the general public, was not being handled as efficiently and consistently as required. For example, there had been complaints from the utility companies and the general public about the difficulty in using existing systems such as the Tele-Tech Services, Inc. (Tele-Tech) tariff system. It was also difficult to access information through the Commission Internet Web Page. From the utility companies' perspective, this inability to access information efficiently raised the cost of doing business with the PSC. Also, when information was only available in paper format, the PSC could not use that information effectively in its multiple divisions/departments. The paper had to be physically duplicated and disseminated, requiring significant clerical effort and wasted time. In order to analyze the data, there was often manual data entry of the paper-based data. This was further exacerbated by the fact that the same data was entered multiple times into multiple systems so that different agency groups could perform their mandates. Duplicate data entry was wasteful and error prone. Productivity was further impacted by an inadequate tracking system for the paper.

Over the time, the PSC had upgraded and changed systems without a long range IT plan, which had led to multiple systems that did not “talk” to each other. Projects and systems that could be integrated to support multiple divisions and departments within the PSC remain isolated information islands.

Objectives

Two critical goals were to develop a state-of-the-art infrastructure and to achieve application interoperability between all PSC business departments. For example, addressing multi-year budget constraints, not overloading the PSC staff during the implementation, and delivering early results to the PSC in high priority areas. At the end of the multi-year implementation cycle the system must operate as a smoothly integrated system. The system must share data, applications and similar work processes across the organization. Imaging, document management and workflow must be integrated within the automated solution. The contractor and Commission Staff should be able to work on all system components simultaneously. Provisions must be made to continue accepting paper documents, and in some cases, using OCR technology to capture the information on the documents. It was anticipated that there would be a need to scan and OCR approximately 500 sheets per day on normal days.

System Architecture and Process Flow

The solution consisted of a central repository for documents (electronic documents and images) and structured data supporting two related applications, the Case Management System (CMS) and the Customer Quality System (CQS).

Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS) - System Architecture

The below diagram depicts the flow of the system.

Electronic Filing and Information System (EFIS) - Process Flow

Approach

The effort to enhance and upgrade the IT infrastructure within the PSC was a multi-year task. The system was an integrated work management and document management solution that was tailored to support two applications: Case Management System and Customer Quality System. The primary system software components are: Application Partners Sequis Work Management System (Sequis WMS); the FileNet Panagon Integrated Document Management family of software products including Panagon Image Services and Panagon Content Services; and Microsoft SQL Server. The solution was provided in a multi layer, object-based, web-enabled, architecture on Microsoft platform. HCL used Caere OCR software products to satisfy all requirements related to optical character recognition. Optionally RealNetwork software products were used to satisfy all requirements for audio and video capture, broadcast, and archive.

Results

  • Paper based activity has been reduced by over 60% and transfer times of documents from one step to the next have been reduced drastically.
  • The consequent saving of 2 hours per employee per day in many departments has resulted in a 25% overall productivity gain.
  • The EFIS solution ensures an efficient eRegulation with happier employees, a satisfied constituency and a growing utility business environment.

Acronym Key

CMS Case Management System
CQS Customer Quality System
HCL HCL (Mass.), Inc.
MPSC Missouri Public Service Commission
OCR Optical Character Recognition
PSC Public Service Commission

 

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