Rita C. Kidd and Robert J. Carlson
Beginning in 1988, the Merced County Human Services Agency in California realized it needed to find a solution to the rising costs of providing human services to a growing population and to the 35-percent turnover rate among its caseworkers. After selecting Andersen Consulting to provide assistance in solving its problems, the agency was helped with a little magic (Merced automated global information control.). magic uses an expert system designed to determine client eligibility for public aid and calculate benefits based on information in the database. Behind the scenes, magic resides on Hitachi Data Systems mainframes, uses database software from Software AG, and connects a series of Hewlett-Packard (HP) minicomputers and microcomputers through an Ethernet local area network. The expert system was created using ads (Aion development system) from Aion Corporation. In addition to increasing the services provided by the agency, magic earned the 1991 Hewlett-Packard High Tech Award and is a finalist for the Computerworld / Smithsonian Award.