Governor challenges state employees to think big, improve efficiently

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When it comes to taxes, Gov. Hebert’s philosophy is to squeeze more from every taxpayer dollar so we don’t squeeze more dollars from every taxpayer.

But actually putting that into practice is a real challenge.

That’s why the governor has challenged the members of his Cabinet and all state employees to improve our performance and operational efficiency by 25 percent by January 2017. Already state employees are making changes to work toward the goal.

The Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing reduced a three-month backlog in pharmacy applications to two weeks while also decreasing call wait times.

In our effort to ensure our prison gates are a permanent exit rather than a revolving door, the Adult Probation and Parole division of the Department of Corrections has achieved an all-time low for female recidivism rates. They have done this by implementing a risk-assessment tool that identifies and prioritizes the resources and services each female offender needs, instituting female-only caseloads that allow Adult Probation and Parole agents to focus and specialize on the needs of female offenders, and by designing treatment and programming services for female offenders’ specific needs –services such as treating trauma caused by domestic violence.

The  Department of Commerce’s Real Estate Division has raised the number of applications it is processing within five days from 75 percent to 85 percent, and reduced costs for those applications by 25 percent.

For the third-consecutive year, the U.S. Department of Labor has awarded Utah the “UI Triple Crown” for administering the unemployment insurance program faster and more effectively than other medium-sized state in the country.

The Utah National Guard has improved its tuition assistance reimbursement program. It is now easier for our citizen soldiers to get the help they need to further their education—an important way for us to pay-it-forward for their ongoing service to Utah and the United States of America.

And these are just a few of many examples of successful efforts under way in all areas of state government to improve performance.

Oh, and by the way, our state government is smaller today than it was in 2000 — even though Utah has added more than 700,000 residents over the past 13 years. In 2000, there was one state employee for every 112 Utahns; today, that ratio is one state employee for every 146 Utahns.

Even though we are on the right road to meeting our performance goal, we will get run over if we don’t keep moving or progressing.

Some of you have heard the adage: “Good, better, best. Never let it rest ‘til your good is better, and your better is best.”

Sure, there may be some who think they have done enough — who might be saying to themselves it is impossible to raise their performance even higher. But the governor doesn’t believe that. No matter what type of work we do in state government, there is always opportunity for improvement.

Thinking big and thinking differently
It would be a mistake, though, to equate raising the performance bar solely to cutting costs or saving money.  Success in this endeavor is about much more than money. It’s about what envisioning the ideal of what government should be — and working toward that. It’s about improving our work to get more out of every dollar we invest. Success in these endeavors will not come easy. There are heavy demands on our available resources. So we need to be more efficient with the resources we have.

We must think big and we must think differently.

As French Nobel Prize-winner Andre Gide said: “You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

 

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