VA Improves Services Through Employee Innovation

Vet.hearing A principle of Open Government is that workers can build solutions to real problems and get the attention of top management.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has been doing a lot of this recently, providing better customer service for Vets, and providing better return for the taxpayer dollar.

We have a new example of that, where a VA employee, Renford Patch, wrote some software which helps determine if a Vet has hearing loss, how much loss, and feeds that into the claims process. It greatly simplifies and accelerates what was a complicated paper process.

This kind of thing is fairly novel in Washington, but we’re seeing it starting to happen a lot there, particularly in those areas which have embraced Open Government. I’ll try to surface more examples of this.

For more information regarding this example, check out a VA employee-developed hearing loss calculator that has 100 percent accuracy.

Serious about service on Martin Luther King day (#MLKday)

Mlk Okay, the deal is that things get better for everyone when we pull together, and this is a really good day to remind each other of that. Check out the Facebook page for MLKday.

I've been asked to mention what I'm doing for the day, but figure it's time to up the ante, and to partially disclose a lot more of my efforts.

My deal is that I'm now spending most of my time in public service and philanthropy, and on MLK day, ironically, I'll be flying to Washington in that pursuit. Makes sense to me to document some of what I've been doing and what will do around MLK day. Much of this I've been doing for five to ten years, but it's time to step up my game.

Since I don't write good, here's just the bullet list, incomplete where I haven't gotten permission to discuss, or it's too sensitive. This is a partial list, kind of a two week snapshot.

  • "accountability journalism" and public service media
  • helping Charity Navigator and GreatNonprofits (get started to) measure the effectiveness of causes and related nonprofits
  • supporting #veterans across the country, and particularly where I live, the Bay Area (multiple parallel efforts)
  • helping teachers via DonorsChoose.org
  • helping FEMA figure out how to use social media for emergency management #smem
  • working with CiviliNation trying to get reasonable social discourse going
  • supporting Wikipedia with customer service, also financially
  • using social media on behalf of AARP
  • helping several Federal agencies with how to better do customer service online
  • working with the State Dept, Palestinian and Israeli gov'ts on jobs in IT in
  • the West Bank (I just found out I'm a cochair of the US Palestinian Partnership)
  • working with multiple agencies regarding interoperability of health systems and medical records

An IT success story in Haiti

Jerry-joseph-haiti Inveneo focuses on building computer centers in places which need, but find it hard to get, reliable electrical power and bandwidth. They get stuff done, and you’ll hear more about our their work, with a little of our support, in Kenya and the West Bank.

Check out A Haitian ICT Success Story: Jerry Joseph and remember that in the US we say IT, but elsewhere, it’s Information Computer Technology

Jerry Joseph is pursuing a dream – he wants to be an expert in information and communication technology (ICT). Thanks to Inveneo, he’s working toward that goal with Multilink, a Haitian ISP, by bringing broadband Internet to rural Haiti and changing the lives of people in his community.

Working with us to deploy long-distance WiFi, Jerry gained valuable practical skills and the attention of Multilink. Now Jerry is managing bandwidth and tech support as an independent contractor for Multilink in Léogâne, in the process, he is gaining real expertise in ICT and making an impact in his homeland.

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