|This week as I watched President Obama's inauguration address, like people across America and around the world, I attended carefully to every word. I was expecting him to give us his agenda for our country and lay the path for the work ahead. I was expecting him to talk about the economic crisis and his plans to lead us through it. I was expecting him to discuss issues foreign and domestic and give a vision for the future. And he did all that.
What he also did and what I wasn't expecting was talk about what is happening at the Department of Human Services in Oregon.
About half way through his speech he began talking about government -- about our work -- as a force for good in our country.
"The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified," he said. He went on to talk about breaking through the bureaucratic barriers that keep us from doing our jobs and how he wants to restore trust between the government and the public.
By the end of 2008, 500 DHS employees had direct involvement in the DHS Transformation Initiative.
I was delighted because I couldn't have described our Transformation Initiative any better. As further proof that I'm not imagining the connection between how we are changing the way we do business and the President's vision for government in this country, earlier this month he appointed Nancy Killefer to be the first Chief Performance Officer. That is a job he created to oversee a transformation in government at the federal level. Nancy is a senior director of McKinsey & Company, the same global consulting firm that helped us create the roadmap for change we are using today.
Should President Obama learn about what is happening here in Oregon, I am sure he will be pleased, and if he called me today to check up on our progress, I would have a lot to report.
Here is some of what we have been doing since September:
- Reducing the waiting time for adoption from between 200 and 400 days to no more than 45 days;
- Reducing the time required to recruit a qualified nurse from 80 days to seven;
- Reducing the time it takes for nutritional consultations from 150 days to seven days;
- Reducing the time it takes to amend county contracts from 84 days to as few as 30 days;
- Improving service on food stamp applications to same-day rather than waiting for two weeks or more; and
- Eliminating red tape and redundancies in practices ranging from purchasing and travel authorizations to freeing up discretionary dollars used for foster children and to keep children from needing foster care.
And we are continuing to develop our ability to create change. By the end of 2008, 500 DHS employees had direct involvement in the DHS Transformation Initiative and approximately 15 percent of our workforce (1,500 individuals) had received an introduction to Lean training.
Moving forward, an assistant director, Sue Nelson, has been appointed to lead the implementation phase of the Transformation Initiative and we have identified more than 80 other improvements for 2009. You can learn more about them at: http://www.dhs.state.or.us/tools/transformation/docs/trans_roadmap_080930.pdf. We are reducing costs, eliminating unnecessary steps, improving contracting and clearing away barriers to our employees doing their best work.
DHS is earning a reputation as government that works -- and that's important not only because we are continually improving our client service but also because it shows we are an agency worth investing in. As we move forward with cautious steps into a year that will bring continued economic crisis, we are bringing our best efforts to bear. Our transformation is an important part of how we respond to this crisis and I am very proud of this agency for being on the forefront of change that is sweeping our country.