Every year, the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) updates its strategic plan. This critical exercise helps our agency prioritize the ways in which it serves millions of Arizonans with varying needs. We are able to review and reflect upon our progress and evaluate the best ways to proceed. Planning and prioritizing across a larger time span allows us to identify the larger and more ambitious goals and adjust accordingly so that DES can continuously transform and maintain alignment with our True North.
The pandemic disrupted the workings of the entire world. It forced us to rise above to not only focus on the crisis of the time, but look toward our long-term goals as we continued to strive for lasting change for the better. Now, as our state rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, we look back on all of our accomplishments in spite of it all and are eager to regain our footing and look forward to the next five years. You can review the DES Fiscal Year 2022 Strategic Plan here.
Below are a few of the highlights:
Emerging from the Pandemic Stronger, Leaner, and More Efficient
The pandemic drastically increased the demand for DES assistance, while social distancing required our staff to work in virtual environments to meet these demands. We’ve learned many lessons over the past year as we implemented new federal programs and developed a virtual services model that allowed us to better serve our clients where they are--in the comfort and safety of their own homes. Today, more than 90% of clients seeking basic assistance and employment support are served virtually. We intend to build upon this progress by continuing to improve our clients’ abilities to access DES services online and by phone.
Modernize Agency Technology Solutions
In order to accomplish this goal, we are working diligently to improve our IT systems for a better client experience, at a lower cost. As we improve our digital services, we will continue to ensure our cybersecurity is at a level congruent with our growing virtual environment. We’ve developed an IT strategic roadmap to guide us as we move forward.
Provide World-Class Customer Experience
In tandem with the modernization of our systems and the efficiency of our overall operations, we are strengthening our focus on the customer experience. By understanding our client base, their needs and experiences, we will work to ensure more timely and consistent service for all of our clients. Our commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion is integral to truly understanding the varying needs among the communities we serve, so every client is able to receive the services they need to reach self-sufficiency.
Reflecting on the Previous Year
While the past fiscal year had unimaginable challenges, DES was able to push through and provide to millions the assistance they needed to endure the pandemic. This involved launching new programs, including:
- Emergency Rental Assistance Program
- Lost Wages Assistance Program
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Program
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation Program
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program
- Essential Worker Child Care Relief Scholarship Program
- Pandemic EBT Benefits
Billions of dollars have been distributed to families across our state, and as a result, Arizona is well positioned to recover from the pandemic stronger than we were before. DES underwent a transformation over the past year, and we invite you to share in our excitement to see how we can continue to develop over the next.