There have been several times over the course of 2010 when I have noted in this weekly message the unprecedented changes and challenges facing us at the Oregon Department of Human Services and the Oregon Health Authority.
Now in this year-end review, I want to note how proud I am of the way the two agencies have responded to these challenges and how well-positioned we are to face the tests to come.
The biggest challenge, of course, was managing through a record increase in need for services during a time of budget shortfalls and diminishing resources. Our workers across the state are on the front lines of the recession and you have responded heroically. Despite furloughs, pay freezes and reduced staffing, you have continued to deliver high quality services and meet the needs of Oregon's communities. Additionally, we have so far been able to meet this demand within our budget and without asking the Legislature for additional revenues.
At the same time, DHS and OHA staff did the work to create two separate but connected agencies. We held community budget forums across the state where hundreds of people shared their priorities for services in their local communities. And over the past year hundreds of our staff have worked on this transition, examining the way we do the work and looking at what services should be separated and which should be shared. Now we enter 2011 with the final stages of the transition ahead and clear missions on the work before us. For more information about the status of the DHS-OHA transition, please check the Inside DHS-OHA intranet website, which provides a weekly status report. Meanwhile, through the work of our Transformation Initiative we have persistently pursued improving our organizational efficiency and effectiveness across both agencies. We have identified $92 million in savings or avoided costs and that work continues daily.
As we finish one historic year, we are ready to embark on another. As I know you are acutely aware, Governor-elect Kitzhaber and the incoming Legislature are grappling with a $3.5 billion budget crisis. While there are difficult choices ahead, we at OHA and DHS are already working with the new Governor's staff as part of his budget transition teams.
This document on our website has more detail about key accomplishments from our various divisions. As I review this work, I am impressed anew at the ability of DHS and OHA employees to not only rise to great challenges but to surpass expectations as they strive to continuously improve our services to Oregonians. That's something we can all celebrate and be proud of.