The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was created after September 11th to coordinate the implementation of a comprehensive national strategy to secure the United States from terrorist threats or attacks. It was formed out of 22 agencies from nine different cabinet departments. The mission of the DHS and its 180,000 men and women is to prevent terrorist attacks within the United States, reduce America’s vulnerability to terrorism, and minimize the damage from potential attacks and natural disasters.
Given the DHS’ composition as an amalgamation of multiple existing governmental agencies, integrating and streamlining process and communication is of paramount importance. The DHS identified a business process management platform as a potential solution across various areas, including internal and external communication (via the DHSOnline intranet and DHSInteractive extranet portals, respectively), disaster management, case management, budget planning, and data collection.
Appian BPM Solution
Appian technology is used to solve all of the above process-based issues at the DHS. As an example in case management, DHS (like all federal agencies) is required to track and report on the equal employment opportunity (EEO) cases that its employees file. Appian manages the case files for eight of the nine major DHS components. Previously, component offices acted independently, with its own tracking system which collected different data. There was no common identifier for cases, lessons learned at one component were not shared across the department, and when cases left an office they entered a “black hole.” In addition, each year the congressionally-mandated 462 report on EEO cases took several person-months to create.
With Appian, eight complaint tracking systems are now consolidated to one, lowering system maintenance costs. Annual reporting, which used to take weeks, now takes seconds. Appian’s flexibility allowed various offices to customize their process flows, and integration with the DHSInteractive extranet helps enforce process standardization and establish process as a knowledge asset, while acting as the portal vehicle for improved communication between department branches.