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State of Missouri Receives Three StateScoop 50 Awards honoring 2021's top government leaders, projects

June 8, 2021

JEFFERSON CITY - The state of Missouri was awarded three StateScoop 50 Awards, which celebrate the outstanding achievements of states to make a positive impact in the government information technology (IT) community and public service. These multiple awards continue Missouri’s dominance in producing exceptional public servants who are making government more effective and efficient for the citizens they serve.

“We owe it to Missourians to be the best public servants we possibly can, and we do that by constantly seeking ways to do better than we have done before,” Governor Mike Parson said. “We are proud of our team members for earning these awards and proving that even during a pandemic we can develop new and innovative ways to improve state government.”

“We continue to be amazed by what our talented staff produces to improve the lives of Missouri citizens,” Commissioner Sarah Steelman said. “Throughout the pandemic, I was inspired by the resiliency of our team members who created innovative practices to implement throughout state government during this difficult time. This recognition is only a small example of the incredibly hard work that has been going on throughout each of our agencies.”

StateScoop, owned by Scoop News Group, focuses on reporting news and events that impact technology decisions in state and local government. The awards honor the “best and brightest” across the country. Missouri was represented in all five government-focused StateScoop 50 Awards, which is a testament to the skills, talents, and visionary leadership of state team members.

Missouri HealthNet Director Todd Richardson (DSS) - State Leadership of the Year Award

Director Richardson was named a recipient of the State Leadership of the Year award, which recognizes “helping government implement new technologies, strategies, and IT programs." In addition to his regular duties, Dir. Richardson led Missouri government’s COVID-19 Fusion Cell. The Fusion Cell involved hundreds of people throughout our 16 departments as well as external public and private healthcare systems, long-term care providers and local public health authorities. Due to his leadership, the Fusion Cell collected and shared data daily to inform the state’s policy decisions during the pandemic. Dir. Richardson ensured critical IT and digital projects were resourced to gather, analyze, and communicate data-based insights internally and to the public.

OA-ITSD Client Services Manager for DHSS, JoAnn Harbison - State Up and Comer Award

Ms. Harbison was awarded the State Up and Comer award for her exceptional work in IT assisting the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services with its COVID response. Harbison was instrumental in the 2-month development and implementation of an electronic system to collect and track COVID-19 case reporting. To cut down on manually entering the results, Harbison led the implementation of electronic laboratory reporting. This project saved the state approximately $50,000 a day in manual data entry, which allowed for immediate follow-up and saving lives in the process.

 DORA - State IT Innovation of the Year

The DORA program won the State IT Innovation of the Year. This award is presented to “The innovative state IT approach to cross-agency or intra-agency technology that may have been unfathomable until recently.” Missouri Department of Revenue’s DORA (Department Of Revenue Answers) chatbot provides answers 24/7 to common questions from residents with information from the state’s Taxation, Driver License, and Motor Vehicle Bureaus. In its first five months of operation, DORA received 380,004 messages in 115,214 chat sessions. It has now had nearly 2.7 million citizen chat sessions. On average DORA provides a helpful answer to 93 percent of inquiries. Since implementation, the team has added more than 350 new questions/answers and more than 15,600 alternate training questions to DORA. Citizens can also connect with DORA through Facebook, a SMS/text channel, text to speech, speech to text and a Google Maps integration.

“It’s an honor to receive a StateScoop Award in a category dedicated to technology innovation,” said Director of Revenue Ken Zellers. “Like the entire State of Missouri team, the Department of Revenue is committed to using technology to improve how we work and serve our customers. Our DORA chatbot is a product of that commitment.”

For more information on the StateScoop 50 awards and winners, visit the StateScoop 50 awards website.