Project Summary

The Indian Health Service/California Area Office needed a better way of providing training and technical assistance to the 46 tribal and urban Indian health care programs in California, so they developed the IHS/CAO Portal System, a cost-effective, novel and easily accessible tool that enables health care staff at remote locations to access discipline specific online communities.

Project Team

Team Members
Robert Gemmell, IHS
Kelly Stephenson, IHS
Steve Riggio, IHS
Beverly Miller, IHS

Project Details

The California Area Office (CAO) of the Indian Health Service (IHS) is tasked with providing training and technical assistance to the 46 tribal and urban Indian healthcare programs scattered throughout an enormous geographic area.  These healthcare programs provide a myriad of services including; primary and specialty medical care, dental care, behavioral health, pharmacy, and outreach.  A cost-effective and efficient system needed to be developed to support customers who are not within the federal security boundary.

After serious consideration and analysis, the development team concluded that the problem is solved by the IHS/CAO Portal System, a collection of discrete online communities that are connected to each other and the IHS website through a common management framework. What differentiates the system from other available technologies is that it requires no licensing or expensive client access licenses; it reaches beyond federal intranets; and it supports the required level of customization.

The CAO Portal System is innovative because it:

  1. Re-purposes open source software to extend its functionality, specifically with the iterative Ticket Management System
  2. Fills a gap between federal information systems and our public website
  3. Creates a collaborative environment which can include both federal and non-federal stakeholders and subject matter experts

Additional Information


HHS Innovates is one of the ways we are building an innovative culture at the Department of Health and Human Services. HHS Innovates is a contest that recognizes and rewards action taken on good ideas. To date, HHS employees have submitted nominations of innovations for nearly 500 exciting new staff-driven innovative projects, and our employees have cast over 60,000 votes to select 42 finalists over seven rounds. This project is one of the finalists of HHS Innovates. Learn more about HHS Innovates.