RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The Virginia Department of Social Services is being recognized for its use of technology to help improve efficiency and effectiveness.

Gov. Bob McDonnell's office says the department has received the Innovation in Utilization Award at RichTech's 18th Annual Technology Stars Gala. RichTech is Richmond's Technology Council.

The agency was presented the award for its CommonHelp portal. The website allows residents to apply for benefits, check on the status of applications, renew for assistance and manage their benefits.

Officials say more than 60,000 applications have been accepted in the nine months since the project launched and nearly 30 percent of all public assistance applications are being submitted online.

The portal can be used to apply for various benefits including Medicaid, child care services and energy assistance.