Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
August 15, 2008 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS employees
From: Sue Nelson, DHS chief administrative officer
I have the honor this week of providing the final report in the series about the DHS Transformation Initiative. It seems appropriate to conclude these messages with a focus on the Administrative Services Division (ASD) because this area of the department provides shared services and represents the critical infrastructure of DHS. ASD staff will be involved in improvement activities that touch every part of the agency.
DHS chief administrative officer Sue Nelson
DHS chief administrative officer Sue Nelson

In fact, this effort began in ASD in January 2007 when a Lean pilot initiative was conducted in three offices - Financial Services (OFS), Budget and Policy Analysis (BPA), and Payment Accuracy and Recovery (OPAR). The Lean method was selected because of its proven effectiveness and focus on reducing errors, improving quality, increasing efficiencies and engaging staff. This method uses a learning approach that enables employees to participate in improving the processes and systems they use on a daily basis.

The results of the pilot project were so impressive that the department decided to expand the effort across all divisions. Some of those results include:

  • Reducing overtime by 80 percent in BPA;
  • Significantly improving cash management and reducing loan amounts and interest paid to the Oregon Treasury Department;
  • Preparing and submitting the DHS budget five months earlier than the previous biennium;
  • Meeting the year-end reporting deadline for the first time;
  • Increasing OPAR's recovery of money owed to DHS by more than $3.5 million during the past 18 months; and
  • Receiving the State Controller's Gold Star Award in OFS.

There's more to come. ASD has identified several areas for improvement that will benefit all of DHS. Upcoming initiatives include streamlining the payroll time capture system, further consolidating the coordination of printing services, and implementing strategic sourcing (contracting) and purchasing processes. A workforce initiative will improve recruitment practices, strengthen our ability to retain the talented people who join the department, provide opportunities for employee growth and development, and create a succession plan that ensures DHS has the capacity within its ranks to fill critical leadership positions in the years ahead.

Needless to say, all of these efforts will require us to step back and take a fresh look at what we do, why we do it, and ask how we can do it better. This is one of the foundational and most important aspects of Transformation within DHS - the shifting of the culture and mindset to become an organization that continually questions and seeks to improve.

This doesn't happen overnight. It happens as real changes begin, on the ground, every single day. Only through the active engagement of us all, including our partners, stakeholders and communities, will DHS become a model health and human services agency.

Transforming DHS is about achieving a level of operational excellence and delivering the highest quality services to the citizens of Oregon. As Director Bruce Goldberg often says, "The work we do is too important not to be the best."

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