Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
Jan. 28, 2011 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS and OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

Transforming for the better every day

"Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment."
~Oprah Winfrey

As we prepare to begin the 2011-2013 legislative session -- and as Governor Kitzhaber prepares to release his budget Tuesday -- I want to note a very important milestone. This week we have reached more than $100 million in savings through the DHS/OHA Transformation Initiative. Through 35 completed improvement projects and 100 total ongoing projects, we are succeeding in relentlessly improving our performance and reducing wasted human and financial capital. Each day we are doing better and better.

This is something we should all be proud of and take a part in celebrating. Without this more than $100 million, the current budget reality would be that much starker and there would be fewer resources to help our clients or pay the providers who care for them.

Of course, while the savings are important, anyone who has participated in one of these projects will also tell you that the improvements to our services, the increased morale and efficiency, and the growing confidence in our abilities bring equally important payoffs.

In the Children, Adults and Families Division, for example, branches have been overwhelmed by double-digit caseload increases for more than two years. I've often spoken of how branches improved their food stamp intake process. But they didn't stop there. As the high caseloads become the new normal, staff are continuing to fine tune their work. One branch now has a pilot project that reduces unnecessary work involved in processing one form, eliminating 38 steps in the process. While that brings dollar savings -- more than $20 every time the form is used -- it also improves the work environment for staff and the service we deliver to clients.

Similar work is happening across both agencies. The Background Check Unit has gone from a seven-day turnaround on processing a fingerprint card to an average one-day turnaround. That significantly reduces the time it takes to do background checks for people who care for clients and for new DHS/OHA staff. In Public Health they have reduced the steps connected to applying for federal grants by more than 40 percent. In AMH they continue their work to ensure that people with mental illness are living with the right level of care, which improves treatment and lowers cost.

In nearly every hallway of both agencies similar projects are happening, and Oregon is starting to receive national recognition for our accomplishments. This is how we make government better -- step by step, improvement by improvement. If you have not yet participated in an improvement project, please don't wait to get involved. One of the fundamental aspects of Transformation is the Lean Daily Management System (LDMS) and you can take online LDMS training where you'll learn the basic principles that you can use in your work.

When we launched the Transformation Initiative in 2008, we did not know what the future was going to bring to us. We did not know how deep or how long the recession would go. We did not know that we would ultimately become two separate agencies by the year 2011. We did not know how well the work we began then would position us to transform not only ourselves, but the entire health and human services system.

But what we did know is that we believe in the missions we carry out for the people of this state and that there were some tough times ahead. I have often said that our work is so important, we have to be the best. Every day, we are getting closer.

DHS on the web