Lessons learned in Illinois: Setting the standard for paperless government agencies

Commentary: Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt outlines how one department innovated the way it handled documents, and how he aims to scale that practice enterprisewide.

Editor’s Note: This post originated from a daily blog that appears on Illinois CIO Hardik Bhatt’s LinkedIn page. StateScoop will post an abridged compilation of Bhatt’s blog each week.

Previously, in this column, we have talked about innovation coming out of agencies that need to be scaled enterprisewide to make a quick, high-value, customer-centric transformation. Today, I would like to share an example of that.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulations, or IDFPR, regulates more than 250 different professions and 1.2 million Illinois licenses.

Last year, Gov. Bruce Rauner tapped Bryan Schneider to lead IDFPR’s team of 450. Bryan has a long and distinguished career in the private sector, most recently as the divisional vice president for health law at Walgreen Co. Under Schneider’s leadership IDFPR achieved a major customer-centric milestone last week. He began the process of taking the agency paperless.


The department implemented paperless licensing and renewals for the professions licensed and regulated by the Divisions of Real Estate and Professional Regulation. The transition away from paper-based renewals and licenses means that regulated professionals will now be able to renew their license quickly and easily online, and be provided proof of licensure through email and IDFPR’s License Lookup application.

The move to paperless technology is part of the IDFPR’s ongoing efforts to modernize the state’s regulatory agency and is estimated to save the state nearly $3 million in postage, paper and printing costs over the next five years.

But that’s not all. Toward the end of March, IDFPR took one more step towards automation. The department made digital licenses available to more than a million IDFPR licensees. Now, a licensee can view and print or display a license wherever/whenever needed, including on a mobile device.

One key thing to note — 100 percent of the credit for this automation goes to IDFPR: Schneider, CIO Sunil Thomas, Chief of Staff Brandon Purcell and the IDFPR leadership team.

This was envisioned and executed 100 percent by the agency. We will now look to scale it enterprisewide. As we continue the technology-infused transformation at the state, we are looking to expedite these type of innovations in one agency and copy/paste them throughout the enterprise.

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