2023 NACo Achievement Awards: Spotlight on Howard County’s 15 Wins in Information Technology (Part 1)

Introducing Our Celebratory Blog Series: Showcasing the Remarkable Achievements of Maryland’s Award-Winning Counties!

Join us on an exciting journey as we embark on a special blog series dedicated to honoring the exceptional accomplishments of the counties that triumphed in the National Association of Counties (NACo) 2023 Achievement Awards. Each week, we will shine a well-deserved spotlight on a few remarkable counties, delving into their accomplishments, innovative initiatives, and the profound impact they have had on their communities. Let’s dive in!

Howard County received 15 Information Technology Program Awards.

Each of these will be highlighted in a three-part article.

Application System for Commercial Landfill Permit Processalpha ridge landfill feature image

The Department of Public Works Environmental Services (DPW/ES) consulted the Department of Technology and Communication Services (DTCS) to help develop and implement an application system for the Commercial Landfill Permit process. The DPW/ES sought a secure environment for business records, the ability to efficiently search vehicles in the database, notification when an application is submitted, a streamlined application process, and the ability for businesses to view all vehicles when they renew. Despite roadblocks, the ServiceNow team developed the commercial permit application and migrated the data. The application went live on June 6, 2022, and contains these features: a system for mobile and onsite (landfill) access to complete application and renewal procedures without delays and reducing long wait lines, a solution for real-time permit updates and renewals, and consistent data availability to be consumed and processed by other external systems and entities. In addition, the system provides many benefits and an opportunity for improvements to support other system integrations. The application went live with 1,500 permitted businesses. DTCS supports the application process, ensures that the computer station is available for the business at the scale house if needed, and supports the secure connection.

Capital Budget (CB) Tracking ToolPublic Works Construction Projects

The Bureau of Facilities within the Department of Public Works has successfully expanded a self-developed project management tool to add a Capital Budget Planning and Tracking Tool (CB Tool). The Capital Budget planning process is a critical component of any successful project, and this new tool has been designed to streamline the budget process and ensure that projects are well-planned and tracked throughout the project’s life. This tool projects budgets over seven years. The new system utilizes the Microsoft Office 365 platform and is fully integrated with our current project management tool, which is now widely used and easily adaptable to all Bureau staff. In addition, utilizing the Microsoft Office 365 platform saves money (no added software needed) and is easy to learn, regardless of technical expertise.

IT Innovation at Harriet Tubman Cultural Centerharriet tubman culture center rendering 2021

It was incumbent on the IT Team to fully outfit a new Historic Harriet Tubman Museum, the first of its kind in the Baltimore/Columbia corridor of Maryland. The age and structure of the former high school building, which was opened in 1949, posed issues for technology, such as cabling. The IT team began work on the Harriet Tubman project on August 28, 2020. They met with contacts from the various offices to determine requirements for the state-of-the-art building. From August 2020 to September 2022, the team successfully prepared the Museum for its opening on September 17, 2022. This complex project was immense. It required that the team coordinate work with several contractors, state entities, and many county offices and departments. The team members’ level of customer service expertise enabled them to lead in designing and implementing the technology for the entire building. Team members worked on site throughout the project and ensured all computers, fax machines, phones, printers, conference room audio-visual equipment, fiber, and internet functioned before opening day. They accomplished the astounding achievement without impacting residents.

IT Business Service Catalogman in black and white checkered dress shirt sitting on black office rolling chair

The Department of Technology and Communication Services utilizes the business service catalog as a catalyst to establish a comprehensive process flow for onboarding, tracking, maintaining, and supporting the various business services the County provides. This powerful tool facilitates disaster recovery planning, offers a unified view of service outages and alerts from multiple sources, and enhances troubleshooting via service maps. In addition, it streamlines onboarding and offboarding procedures through existing processes such as change and project management. Finally, it provides historical information about each service’s who, what, where, how, and when. The department manages over 400 business services within the catalog, including authentication, security, and email. In the long term, the catalog enables the department to create a knowledge base of services, protecting against turnover and providing an auditable trail of supported systems.


IT Contribution to County Administration’s Public Information Act (PIA) Request Form ProcessPublic Records Request | Gloucester, MA - Official Website

The County Council Administration requested a database that they could use to track PIA requests that they receive from constituents. Previously, when they received PIA requests, they would come in as emails and did not contain all the information necessary to process them. Due to legal requirements, requests must be responded to within a deadline, and this was challenging without having all the required information. Within seven months, the Department of Technology and Communication Services (DTCS) created a streamlined process that allows constituents to submit a user-friendly form that feeds into a database. The form collects all the mandatory information to help process the request within the deadline. The database allows the administrators to see a list of all the PIA requests, assign the requests to the person responsible for handling them, update the open/closed status, and respond directly to the constituent regarding the request. The new process improved efficiency and allowed the administrators to manage, track, and audit all their PIA requests.

Read about the other Howard County IT Awards in Part 2 and Part 3!

Together, let’s explore the remarkable stories behind these award-winning counties and draw inspiration from their passion, creativity, and commitment to making a positive difference. View all 2023 NACo Achievement Award winners through their interactive and searchable map. View our full series of 2023 Maryland Award Winners.