Success Stories:US Department of Labor improves citizen service with digital forms

The Challenge

To apply for or renew a certain hiring certification, thousands of US companies had to complete and mail in multiple paper forms to the US Department of Labor (DOL). The process was labor-intensive and error-prone for both employers and the DOL, and deprived both parties of the ability to easily analyze application data.

The Solution

AIS digitized the paper form and all accompanying attachments, in the process helping the DOL to adopt agile software development practices.

The Results

The digital application process is more streamlined and easier for companies to complete, results in higher accuracy, and provides both companies and DOL staff with digital data that is easier to analyze and report on.

Digitize the process in just eight weeks

DOL brought in AIS to digitize this application process. Using Microsoft Azure to set up development environments quickly, our team created a prototype in just eight weeks. We primarily used open source tools: GitHub for source control, a PostgreSQL database, and Jenkins for continuous integration/continuous delivery (CI/CD).

We then took the prototype and performed usability testing with users both within DOL and in the target employer base. These tests and conversations yielded valuable early input and several design changes.

Transfer agile development skills

Ours was a fully agile development process, with UX and development teams performing development sprints in an intertwined fashion and the product improving iteratively. A key deliverable was the transfer of agile development practices to DOL staff—modeling rapid, sprint-type software development while still meeting federal data security requirements.

Better serve employers

The new digital form lets the DOL offer a new e-service to employers. The digital form takes less time to complete and, because it’s digital, employers can let multiple people simultaneously work on different aspects of the application—something that was difficult to coordinate before. With in-process and completed forms in digital form on DOL servers, companies are more confident in their application status and can easily access their applications for reference.

Better data insights

Data accuracy is higher, too. The DOL is collecting more uniform and accurate data, which lets it do more meaningful analysis on the data to give it better insights into the types of employers and employees needing the certification.

Compliance with latest accessibility requirements

AIS ensured that the electronic form complied with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 AA, the most current accessibility standard. This helps ensure that the broadest range of applicants can complete the online form without encountering accessibility challenges.