Oregon Department of Human Services Director's Message
July 30, 2010 DHS Director's messages on the web
To: All DHS and OHA employees
From: Bruce Goldberg, M.D., Director

Three imperatives as we move forward

"The world is moved along, not only by the mighty shoves of its heroes, but also by the aggregate of tiny pushes of each honest worker."
~Helen Keller

As we transition over the next year to the two new agencies -- Department of Human Services and Oregon Health Authority -- I see that we have three imperatives before us.

Imperative number one is to organize DHS in a way to continue protecting children and seniors and people with disabilities, and helping families who need assistance getting through difficult times, all in a time of reduced resources. It's going to mean an even greater commitment to continual improvement. I know we are up to this challenge -- it's the same kind of vision and strategy that has so far given us more than $78 million in streamlined work processes and saved resources through the Transformation Initiative.

Imperative number two is to be bold in creating the Health Authority to address the skyrocketing health care costs that are a drain on both private and public organizations. There is no going backwards. The Oregon Legislature created the Health Authority last session and wrote into law the creation of the agency. And in this budget crisis, combining the health and health care functions of the state into one agency is not only more efficient, it's our best option to tackle health care costs and to assure quality, equity and access.

Imperative number three is that we be tight-fisted as we restructure these two new agencies and use the tools we've learned for continual improvement and lean practices. Lawmakers did not give us budgets to create two new bureaucracies -- and we don't need them. Most of the administrative functions of DHS and OHA will continue to be shared. And we are folding in the administration of Public Employees' Benefit Board, Oregon Educators Benefit Board, Office of Private Health Partnerships, and the Oregon Medical Insurance Pool. Our goal is to have fewer, not more, administrative costs, and we will.

Last month specific decisions were made about how we will share administrative services between DHS and OHA. You can see the full list here. Shared services will include information services, budgeting, audits, facilities and many other functions. In the shared service model, they will be "placed" in one agency or the other for budgeting purposes but the two agencies will share the costs in a way that is equitable.

A few administrative services, such as Human Resources Office will be a hybrid. A Human Resources Shared Services Center in DHS will house centralized support functions such as background checks that will serve both agencies. Other functions such as employee recruitment will be separate to allow each agency to target recruitment and retention in a way that best serves its unique mission. Two services, communications and the Governor's Advocacy Office, will be separate and current staff will be assigned to one of the agencies at some point in the future.

We will be doing all of this without additional resources and in many cases we will be using less, streamlining work, and getting better value and improved quality of service with what we have.

Over the next few months and into next year, these changes are going to start to become more visible and tangible. The budget for 2011-2013 that we are submitting to the Governors office in September is two budgets for two agencies. When the gavel drops on the 2011 legislative session next summer and the final budgets are approved, we will move forward as two connected agencies.

For these transitional months between now and then, we have leadership teams for both agencies who will be guiding us through. I have been impressed with the vision, dedication and effort going into this massive effort while we deal with the reductions in services and workforce brought by the budget crisis. As I have said before, this transition truly has been -- and will continue to be -- a test of all we have learned over the past few years about how to run government better and more efficiently for the benefit of the people of our state and create an environment that rewards innovation. I am proud to say we are meeting that test.

DHS on the web