Lawmakers must invest in DFPS technology, workers

Texas 2036 Manager of Policy and Advocacy Hope Osborn on Tuesday called on lawmakers to invest in a major update to the data system used by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

The agency’s “current system, IMPACT, was created in 1996 based on 1993 guidelines,” she explained during testimony before the Senate Finance Committee. “And despite continued investments — $80 million in modernization efforts since 2015 alone — it doesn’t meet the basic needs of the workers that interact with it.”

She added, “It was designed not to be interoperable with other state agencies and thus it cannot have uploaded or stored critical information such as birth certificates, school records, medical examinations and legal documents. It also cannot be used on a cellphone.”

Hope Osborn Senate Finance Testimony 2/21/23Osborn said that Texas 2036 recommends that the state invest in a new data system, based on more modern guidelines from 2015.

She explained that Texas 2036 is basing an $80 million initial outlay to start work on procuring a new data system on anonymous vendor interviews that the think tank conducted for a report that was released in January.

“And because changing systems does take time and money, we recommend a modular approach,” Osborn said.

She closed by telling lawmakers that Texas voters strongly back an investment in technology used by the state workers who look after some of the state’s most vulnerable. The latest version of Texas 2036’s Texas Voter Poll found 80% support for a new system to replace IMPACT, she said.

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