Transitional Assistance Division Moves To Voice Recognition Of Service Recipients

What used to be referred to as the county’s welfare department is transitioning to a futuristic voice recognition program to allow one set of the county’s public assistance recipients access certain programs.
San Bernardino County’s welfare department is now referred to as the human services division. The human services division features a panoply of services, including adult and aging services, behavioral health, the Children’s Fund, the children’s network, children and family services, the office of homeless services, preschool services, public health, transitional assistance services and veterans affairs.
Gilbert Ramos is the director of the county transitional assistance department.
Last week Ramos asked the county board of supervisors to fork out $277,454 to purchase a voice authentication program manufactured by Accenture, LLP and all the attendant software, licensing and support for it to keep it running for the period of February 1, 2017 through October 31, 2019. That voice authentication system is known as the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV Voice Authentication System.
According to Ramos, “The transitional assistance department customer service center is a centralized call center and assists the county’s efficient delivery of public assistance programs. The voice authentication system enhances the current California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV interactive voice response system.”
Ramos said the county’s acquisition of the software and the program will provide “transitional assistance department customers with the ability to authenticate their identity into the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV interactive voice response by stating a specific passphrase, then to be granted access to their case information. The voice authentication system is integrated with the transitional assistance department’s existing customer service center interactive voice response technology. The recommended purchase for voice authentication services will allow the transitional assistance department to continue operational efficiencies by reducing staff time and monthly service charges associated with the customer service center’s toll-free telephone line.”
The transitional assistance department is responsible for administering public assistance programs for eligible county residents in need of financial, nutritional and/or medical assistance, as well as providing foster care, child care and welfare-to-work services. The transitional assistance department utilizes the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV statewide automated welfare system to administer the county’s public assistance programs.
Ramos said, “Since 1998, the county has been a member of C-IV, which is a consortium of 39 counties operating under a joint powers authority and is responsible for creating and maintaining the statewide automated welfare system that supports the business requirements for the administration of public assistance programs in accordance with state requirements. In 1998, Accenture, LLP was selected by C-IV to be the vendor responsible for equipment, software, and services for initial and ongoing development and maintenance of the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV system.”
On August 25, 2015, the transitional assistance department received approval by the Board of Supervisors to design, develop, test and implement voice authentication as an enhancement to the transitional assistance department’s interactive voice response system.
“Voice authentication went live January 29, 2016,” Ramos said. “Voice authentication allows customers with current cases to use their voice via voice biometrics to authenticate their identity for the customer service center agent before the call is connected to the agent. A voice biometric (or voice print) is a numerical representation of the sound, pattern, and rhythm of an individual’s voice, which is as unique as a palm or fingerprint. Customer service center staff then review customer changes and confirm that the appropriate changes have been recorded in the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV system.”
During January 2016 through August 2016, more than 50,100 Voice Authentication registrations were received from customers thereby reducing the call time necessary to verbally authenticate the identity of the caller with a customer service center agent. Ramos said, “This functionality supports The transitional assistance department’s “One and Done” philosophy by efficiently completing a case action at the first contact.”
As a member of the consortium, San Bernardino County does not separately solicit for these services and is bound to utilize the software system and vendor selected by the California Statewide Automated Welfare System Consortium IV.

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