Gov. Pete Ricketts is highlighting improvements in the efficiency of state government, which he says is improving service to the public.
Ricketts acknowledges the changes haven’t resulted in a lot of cost-saving for the state, yet.
“So, when we, for example, save some time, those people are looking at other projects or looking to see how we can improve the services for people in other ways,” Ricketts tells reporters during a news conference. “In our Department of Environmental Quality, as we’re getting better at issuing those permits online, those folks are working on other permits to be able to get done, for example.”
Ricketts created the Center for Operational Excellence in state government, designed to improve government operations by rooting out waste and delivering better customer service. The center follows the Lean Six Sigma philosophy, a private sector process, as its training basis.
Some money has been saved, according to State Administrative Services Director Bryon Diamond, who says the state achieved a bit of savings by deciding against using a private company to train state workers.
“We decided, hey, can we do this training internally and drive it using state teammate assets instead of using the contractor? So that would be a great example in the first year alone. By using onboard assets, we were able to save the state $600,000 that we could have otherwise had to have requested a General Fund increase, an appropriation increase that we didn’t have to do, because we were able to create that program and do it ourselves, internally,” according to Diamond.
The governor’s office gave a few examples of how the process has improved state services:
· Tax Credit Approval Process: The Department of Labor has improved the process used to issue the Work Opportunity Tax Credit, 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, greatly reduces its backlog.
· Healthcare License Delivery: The COE helped the Department of Health and Human Services to reduce the time it takes to license Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses.
· Corrections Pharmacy Packaging: A COE recommendation led to the Department of Correctional Services finding a better way of packaging and distributing medicine for the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women.