LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the State of Nebraska’s Center of Operational Excellence (COE) highlighted recent examples of how the COE is improving the operations of state agencies. Representatives from the Nebraska Department of Labor (DOL), Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and the Department of Corrections (NDCS) joined the event to share their success stories.
“As Governor of Nebraska, my administration’s goal is to grow our great state,” said Governor Ricketts. “Our team at the State of Nebraska is working every day to support private sector growth by delivering better customer service and getting government out of the way of job creators. Creating a government that supports private sector growth and better serves you, the taxpayer, doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a relentless commitment to improving the operations of state government and focus from the state’s workforce on making state government more effective and more efficient.”
The COE serves as the hub that is working with state agencies to train state teammates on how to improve the operations of government, identify waste, and deliver better customer service. Lean Six Sigma, a private sector process improvement philosophy, serves as the basis for the trainings led by the COE. It currently offers training in White, Yellow, and Green Belts in Lean Six Sigma. All State of Nebraska teammates receive basic process improvement skills and earn their White Belt. The COE has also recently opened its Kaizen Room, located in the State Capitol, to lead training events and process improvement meetings.
At today’s event, process improvement coordinators from DOL, DHHS, and NDCS shared success stories from their agencies. Their stories included:
- Tax Credit Approval Process: The Department of Labor has significantly altered how they process the Work Opportunity Tax Credit. This tax credit is available to employers for hiring individuals who traditionally face significant barriers to employment. The COE helped the Department of Labor go from processing 1,000 applications a month to 2,500, resulting in an 87 percent reduction in their backlog. They were able to clear these applications three months earlier than expected. This change is creating more opportunities for hardworking Nebraskans who want to contribute to their communities.
- Healthcare License Delivery: In our Department of Health and Human Services, the COE ran a process improvement project which reduced the time it takes to license Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses. DHHS discontinued their practice of sending wallet-size license cards through the mail, instead allowing licensees to print them off themselves. This not only modernized license delivery, but also eliminated any wait time to receive a license. Previously, these medical professionals had been waiting 33 days for a license. Not only does this improvement remove an inconvenience for our nurses, it also supports access to qualified medical personnel who are now able to do their jobs sooner.
- Corrections Pharmacy Packaging: The Department of Correctional Services has found ways to partner with the COE to improve their operations. The COE helped them find a better way of packaging and distributing medicine for the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. The old process was time consuming. By using the Lean Six Sigma methods the COE taught them, Corrections workers were able to remove 21 steps from their process. This resulted in an 87 percent reduction in lead time and a 45 percent reduction in process time.
In 2017, agency process improvement coordinators have completed 52 projects, eliminating over 1,300 non-value add steps. This has reduced the lead time for delivery by 9,200 hours. By eliminating unnecessary waste, the Nebraska State Government is able to deliver services more quickly and ensure that state government is being a good steward of taxpayer dollars.
“At the State of Nebraska we use Lean Six Sigma to help us eliminate waste and remove inefficiencies,” said Matthew Singh, Director of the COE. “Lean Six Sigma is based on the idea that we as practitioners listen to the needs of the front line employees actually doing the work and listen to the citizens that interact with the process to help guide teams to solutions and improvements that best meet their needs. It is a customer focused mindset that creates real world, easy to implement practical solutions.”
ABOUT THE CENTER FOR OPERATIONAL EXCELLENCE
Governor Ricketts launched the COE to systematically facilitate process improvement activities throughout state government.
The COE assists agency directors and trains teammates in process improvement to help agencies build a customer-friendly culture, streamline operations, and more efficiently allocate their resources. Process improvement coordinators in each agency train State of Nebraska teammates using best-in-class tools to lead process improvement activities within their own department.
Process improvement has been a hallmark of the Ricketts Administration, which has helped state agencies make major advances in serving their customers including reforming ACCESSNebraska, delivering environmental quality permits online, and processing licensing applications at DHHS more quickly.