WHEREAS, the state of Washington, its employees and licensees provide critical and necessary daily services to tens of thousands of citizens of our state in many settings, and those services protect vulnerable people and the general public from harm;

WHEREAS, the people, state executives, the courts and the legislature recognize that law enforcement, child protective services, prison and correctional services, and long-term care for people with disabilities are just a few of the areas where the state is facing tremendous challenges in delivering services to an expanding population;

WHEREAS, in recent years, incidents of harm to innocent members of the public have received significant attention from state executives, the legislature, the courts, the public and the media, and some of those incidents have resulted in significant liability for the state;

WHEREAS, it is important that we do everything we can to reduce harm to vulnerable individuals and other citizens of our state, whether it is caused by criminals under state supervision, contractors, licensees, or any other factor related to a state service or program;

WHEREAS, judgments and claims against the state have reached unprecedented levels as the state is held liable for injuries and losses - some of which may have been avoidable - and all stemming from findings that the state, and often, others with whom the state is jointly and severally liable, were negligent;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Gary Locke, Governor of the state of Washington, hereby order and direct the following actions:

1. Best Practices

All agencies shall:

  1. Prioritize loss prevention through developing and meeting focused management goals and efforts in partnership with the state's risk management office.
  2. Allocate resources, to the greatest extent feasible, to services for which the state is at greatest risk of liability, with the goal of preventing or mitigating loss while meeting service expectations and responsibilities. In doing so, agencies should: 1) among information systems, technologies, and funding requests, prioritize those that support high-risk services and serve to mitigate risk; and 2) within available resources, prioritize training for service delivery staff and supervisors relevant to reducing losses and significant claims.
  3. Manage all aspects of employee performance, including holding people accountable for agreed-upon performance expectations.
  4. Review agency policies and, as necessary, simplify and provide written guidance to program staff and service providers that is concise, relevant, easy to understand, and provides practical direction for quality services.
  5. Identify and take steps to involve employees, community members served by the agency, and advocates in efforts to lessen the risk associated with services delivered by the agency.

2. Miscellaneous

This executive order shall take effect immediately. This order does not create any right, duty or benefit, substantive or procedural, at law or in equity, that may be asserted against the state, its officers, employees, licensees, or any other person. This order is intended solely to improve the internal management of the executive branch and enhance compliance with the law.

  IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the State of Washington to be Affixed at Olympia this 7th day of December A.D., Two thousand one.


Governor of Washington

Secretary of State