I’ve been with netlogx for almost three months as part of the Enterprise Medicaid System Project Management Organization (EMS PMO) team for the state of Indiana.  Prior to this I worked for a publicly traded telecommunications company that has countrywide operations selling phone, cable, and internet services.  It has been an interesting transition to say the least!

When comparing the two entities it may seem obvious that differences exist in the overall purpose and mission, however I have been surprised to see similarities as well.  Although a private company’s mission is to obtain profits for the owners, they are under pressure of similar regulatory constraints public sector enterprises face.

The EMS PMO team is currently working on a project to obtain Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) certification for Indiana’s Medicaid Management Information System (MMIS).  By obtaining this certification the state stands to receive up to a 90% Federal Financial Participation from the Federal Government.  The telecommunications industry is also currently involved in a federally incentivized initiative called the Connect America Fund (CAF).  While the goal of the CMS initiative is to improve affordable and quality healthcare availability to its people through system improvements, the goal of CAF is to allow affordable and quality broadband services to consumers everywhere.

The way CAF works is by offering telecommunications companies federal funds that are to be used specifically to expand or improve networks to traditionally underserved areas; mainly small rural communities that private providers feel aren’t worth investing in.  When a telecommunications company accepts CAF dollars they are obligated to A) use the money for its intended purpose and B) prove they used the funds properly.  Certain requirements such as number of households served and minimum speeds are a small sample of the performance metric.  If a telecommunications company misuses the funds or misses deliverables, there are financial consequences.

One of the main differences between the two industries that I’ve noticed is the significance in the public sector’s mission.  In my last role decisions could impact service delays, internet outages, fines from the state, or upset homeowners which seems insignificant to a public sector mission.  The complexity involved within the MMIS and all the considerations of impact when a change is explored is amazing to me.  A change made that results in the non-intentional disenrollment of a person from their eligible health care is a very serious thing!  There is a feeling of importance and purpose when working on a project knowing the positive benefit to society when things are executed properly.

Due to impact of the work being done, I have noticed that many of the state-level decision makers take their jobs very seriously and there appears to be a high focus on level of detail in each decision being made.  This causes the individual work that I do to be very detailed and documented compared to my former role, which I think allows for projects to be more easily picked up where they left off, as well as the ability for someone new to a project to get up to speed and know its history.  A major point of frustration at my previous role was that people had systems and processes that would not be easily understandable or traceable for someone else.

Overall transitioning from private to public sector has not been too difficult for me.  Across the board there are many business similarities at all levels.  I believe mission and work being done in the public sector is more meaningful and allows for a higher sense of fulfillment within employees that many large private sector organizations lack.  This is my take on the subject after three months of observation and one thing is certain; I am learning more and more every day and it will be interesting to look back on this a year from now to see how much my perspective has changed!