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Center Celebrates Process Improvement Training Initiative
Nebraska Ag Connection - 01/09/2018

Governor Pete Ricketts and the Center of Operational Excellence (COE) celebrated the continued success of training Nebraska's teammates in process improvement practices. In January 2017, Governor Ricketts announced that all state teammates had received basic training in process improvement skills. Process improvement skills are helping state teammates identify waste, eliminate unnecessary steps, and deliver a better customer experience for taxpayers.

"My administration is constantly working to create a more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused state government," said Governor Ricketts. "The Center of Operational Excellence has been a key piece in working toward this goal. Congratulations on their first anniversary of training the entire State of Nebraska team in the fundamentals of process improvement. Thanks to their work, taxpayers are seeing great results and better customer service!"

By the end of 2016, all Nebraska code agency team members had been White Belt certified, meaning they have received basic process improvement training. Throughout 2017, the COE continued its work training new team members in the Governor's agencies as they came on board. Additionally, over 1,800 have achieved Yellow Belts, 21 have gained Green Belts, and 12 have received their Executive Green Belts.

"The COE has worked to train and create a work culture that continually looks at ways to innovate how we do business and enhance our customer service," said Department of Administrative Services Director Byron Diamond. "In 2017, our process improvement coordinators completed 52 major projects, eliminating over 1,200 non-value added steps, and reduced lead time by approximately 9,200 hours. This allows the State of Nebraska to deliver products and services more quickly and more cost effectively to our customers -- the taxpayers of the State of Nebraska."

The COE, a division within the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) and led by Director Matthew Singh, developed an in-house training program for team members. This in-house program allowed the state to train its team members at a faster rate than what was promised by outside contractors.

"The Center of Operational Excellence's network of White, Yellow, Executive Green and Green Belts have been working diligently over the last 21 months to ensure a continued effort to achieve a more efficient, effective, and customer-focused government," said Director Singh. "What makes this network's progress so unique is that it includes all State team members striving for a unified goal of eliminating waste at all levels. It is truly driving cultural change across the Governor's agencies."

The State has completed or is in the process of completing over 190 Process Improvement activities. These activities will assist the agencies in operating more efficiently, saving time, and improving the customer service experience for taxpayers.

The COE utilizes Lean Six Sigma methodologies which have helped build a culture of continuous improvement in delivering services to Nebraskans. In addition to certification in White Belt training, the COE also provides certification in Yellow, Green, and Executive Green Belt training. Black Belt training will be created and tested in 2018 with a planned launch date of early 2019.

Since the implementation of the COE, the State has seen successes in a variety of agencies that have led to a more effective and efficient delivery of services, an increase in customer satisfaction, and overall positive cultural change. Governor Ricketts frequently highlights reduced call wait times at state call centers, faster delivery of environmental permits, and speedy turnaround on state tax credits. Other recent successes include:

- A significant decrease in the Department of Health and Human Services' (DHHS) Lincoln Regional Center Application process allowing the process to go from 26 days to 13 days, giving the center a competitive advantage to hire quality talent. The center now delivers offers to candidates sooner and has reduced overtime use due to open positions being filled faster.

- DHHS recently took on the initiative of streamlining the process that updates standard procedures at the Beatrice State Developmental Center. Originally, the process took over 40 months to update a procedure. The process now takes 29.5 days. This significantly increases the facility's ability to ensure all operations of the facility are efficient and effective.

- The Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) has worked with law enforcement partners, the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency, the Nebraska Broadcasters Association, and other stakeholders to improve the process for issuing an AMBER Alert. Two forms which required physical signatures were eliminated, creating efficiency and new electronic submission forms make it possible for every law enforcement officer in the state to make an AMBER Alert request via the NSP website, cutting down on the potential time spent acquiring and filling-out an AMBER Alert request form. Additionally, the Nebraska State Patrol now has the ability to activate the Emergency Alert System (EAS) and issue a Wireless Emergency Alert (WEA) simultaneously for AMBER Alerts, which broadcast the alert to every cell phone in the state. These steps will save precious minutes in the effort to recover an abducted child.

- The Department of Transportation (DOT) recently streamlined its insurance certification renewal process. This is the process for obtaining, reviewing, updating, and filing insurance certificates for vendors the DOT uses to perform work around the State. The process was reduced from 7.94 days to .95 days. This helps support healthy relationships between the State and the vendors it contracts with.

The COE will also be hiring additional Process Improvement Coordinators in the coming months and will be looking for qualified candidates to apply.

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