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How the pandemic got Massachusetts texting

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Massachusetts Department of Transitional Assistance has learned to love text messaging, two agency officials said yesterday at the Code for America conference outside Washington. With benefits offices closed in March 2020, the agency quickly settled on a creating a bulk text-messaging program to send out notices to the nearly 1 million residents it serves. “We focused on quick, simple messages,” said Ashley Carleton, the department’s director of integrated eligibility. Benjamin Freed reports.

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CfA's new safety-net lab gets moving

Code for America also announced this morning the first four states that will work with its newly established Safety Net Innovation Lab, which the organization launched after landing $100 million in new donations. Social-services agencies in California, Colorado, Connecticut and Louisiana will work with the group on revamping the systems they use to deliver nutrition assistance and other benefits, with a fifth state to be added later this summer. Read more.

Search here for infrastructure funds

Bloomberg Philanthropies and several nonprofit groups this week announced the Local Infrastructure Hub, a program designed to help local governments get the most out of the $550 billion in funding to be made available through last year’s federal infrastructure law. The program will provide cities with information, resources and technical assistance on more than 400 grant programs included in the law. Colin Wood has details.

California seeks to merge data and innovation offices

A revision to California’s proposed budget published last Friday calls for combining CalData, the state’s data analytics bureau, with the Office of Digital Innovation, its digital services agency. The merger would create a new Office of Data and Innovation that would “facilitate more efficient state operations and support one-time projects." Ben had the story.

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