Governing For Results 1999 Annual Report
Cover photo by Halverson Fine Photography
Governor Gary Locke

Taxpayers have demanded a better government and state workers have listened and are working hard to gain the public's trust. State agencies are continuing to make improvements to our government that save us money, generate revenue and provide better service to all of us.

I applaud each agency's contributions to the quality of service we offer and commit to you that these efforts will continue. Our goal remains firm: "Make government work better…"

Governor Gary Locke
September, 1998

Results to Date From Process to Results

About This Report

In April of 1997, Governor Locke issued an Executive Order directing all state agencies to develop and implement a program to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the public services they provide.

Everyone is involved - agencies, employees, labor, businesses, and taxpayers. The mandate is simple - find out what is not working well and fix it. Quality improvements and regulatory reform go hand in hand, with a focus on improving customer service.

Employees have been encouraged to be creative, to have ownership of their work, to be innovative and use technology to better serve the citizens of our state.

This report reflects the progress made through December 1999. The teams presented here won the Governor's Quarterly award for Service and Quality Improvement in 1999. They best describe the diversity and depth of improvements that are happening throughout state agencies.

René Ewing
Special Assistant for Quality Improvement
360/902-0586 - Fax 360/664-2832

Making Government Work Better
January, 1999
Improved Case Management for Long Term Care Clients

Annual audits conducted by Aging and Adult Services Administration (AASA) staff indicated a number of inaccuracies in client records. A project team used a special monitoring tool to find forty-one common problem areas identified by social workers and community nurse consultants. The team used existing staff with profound knowledge to provide in-depth, targeted training on each. The monitoring tool documented a 71% improvement in accuracy and a 100% increase in accuracy on calculations of client care costs. Financial staff also determines eligibility 10 minutes faster per case, resulting in 700 staff hours saved each month.
WPLEX Team October, 1999
WorkFirst Post Employment Labor Exchange (WPLEX) Team

The philosophy of Washington's WorkFirst Program is "Get a job, get a better job, get a better life". An inter-agency team designed the WPLEX automated telephone call center. Staff work with former TANF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Family) welfare recipients providing resources, training and better pay. The program resulted in more than 17,000 clients achieving some level of wage progression at work and 6,000 referrals to Community Colleges for training assistance. Another 4,000 clients were identified with job retention issues and referred to case managers for assistance. WPLEX is showcased as a national best practice.
October, 1999
QIC Case Processing Sub-Committee

This team eliminated a decade-old backlog of discrimination complaint cases. They streamlined agency practices to abolish unnecessary work and inefficient processes and developed a system for prioritizing and processing cases efficiently and competently. Overall case inventory was reduced by nearly 75% since July 1996, effectively eliminating case backlogs. The number of cases older than one year was reduced by nearly 90%. In 1996 only 20% of cases were closed in 6 months, now more than 60% are closed in the same timeframe.
QIC Case Processing
January, 1999
Electrical Inspector's Area Redesign Team

Inspectors conducted a customer survey and found that contractors would like more timely and predictable inspections. The team revised territory assignments based on numbers of requests and travel time required. Now inspection results are faxed to contractors the next morning, territories are covered more evenly and inspectors work more collaboratively. Electrical inspectors redesigned inspections and went from 67% to 86% completed within 24 hours. Stakeholders don't wait as long for electrical inspections and work-site safety was enhanced when electrical equipment and trenches closed sooner.
DSHS LifeBook Project July, 1999
LifeBook Project

Most of us have "Baby Books" lovingly prepared by parents to chronicle childhood and give a sense of identity and belonging. Most kids leaving foster care had no such record of early life experiences. The LifeBook Project Team developed a "how-to-create a LifeBook manual" for compiling stories, pictures and documents from a child's personal history. The manual contains sample paragraphs about sensitive adoption issues, written in a healing manner. It saves workers and volunteers many hours in preparation and allows 75% of foster kids the opportunity to take a legacy with them to their new adoptive home.
April, 1999
Vaccine Distribution Team

The Vaccine Management and Distribution Center handles millions of dollars of product annually and faced increased demand and a rising numbers of new vaccines. Customer feedback indicated that vaccines were spoiling due to shipment delays causing customers to hoard product. The team identified more than 50 vital operational functions - some poorly organized with inadequate resources and outdated equipment. They improved vaccine distribution, and turnaround times were reduced from 20 days to five. Additionally, local health jurisdictions are able to access training and technical support so that logging errors have been virtually eliminated and vaccine spoilage has dropped to one percent!
Vaccine Distribution
DRS Receivables April, 1999
Receivables Management Project Team

The agency's old receivables management system was outdated and would not fully interface with other DRS systems. Employer customers would sometimes receive multiple statements or statements difficult to reconcile with corresponding invoices. These problems required considerable staff time to resolve for both the DRS and their customers. A 24-member team designed and implemented a brand new Receivables Management System. Employees now have better access to current data and employers are happy about spending less time reconciling accounts. The best news was that lower operating costs generated an additional $500,000 in interest and earnings to the pension fund.
July, 1999
Abuela Project

In 1997, more than 90 cases of Salmonella occurred among Hispanic children in Yakima County. It was traced to "queso fresco," a traditional soft-white Mexican cheese food, produced from raw unpasteurized milk and untreated animal gut. The Department of Agriculture, WSU Cooperative Extension Service and Yakima County Health District formed a coalition. Named the "Abuela (Spanish for Grandmother) Project," they developed a community-based team of Hispanic volunteers to educate people about health risks and provide safe alternatives to traditional recipes. Hundreds of residents were trained and the project has expanded to six counties resulting in only two reported infections since!
DSHS Alpha Team 14 April, 1999
Alpha Collection Team 14, Division of Child Support

Low collection rates and morale caused this team high absenteeism and turnover and poor customer service. Alpha Collection Team 14 designed a process to simultaneously review cases for collection enforcement and training. They set a goal to increase collections 45%, reduce overdue reviews 60%, and increase the percent of paying cases and dollars collected per case. This new attitude and process allowed the team to exceed targets and dramatically improve morale. Their efforts are a model to other DSHS teams.
July, 1999
Portfolio Management Team

State government's stewardship of information technology is the Department of Information Services (DIS). They wanted to boost the successes of state agencies on major information technology projects. A team collaborated with customers to design a "portfolio management tool," allowing agencies the benefit of monitoring information technology projects using their own standards. They streamlined a 16-page survey down to three pages. Portfolio Management was formally codified in statute by the 1999 Legislature and named the "most innovative computing project in American business" by the Maxwell School of Citizenship at Syracuse University.
Portfolio Management Team
Master License Service Team July, 1999
Master License Service (MLS) Team,

With the cooperation of the IRS and four state agencies, the Department of Licensing improved the one-stop process for registering and licensing new businesses. Washington became the first state or federal entity to provide the immediate issuance of Federal Employer Identification Numbers (FEIN). While other states average four weeks, preliminary FEIN assignments now occur at 48 Unified Business Identifier service counters. This program greatly reduces the number of contacts, phone calls and excursions associated with starting a new business. In a recent survey, 84% of the FEIN customers rated the program satisfactory or better. This improvement was honored with Vice President Gore's "Hammer Award."
January, 1999
Computer Access throughout Washington

As graphic interfaces make software user-friendlier for the sighted, access for blind students became nearly impossible. The technology team at WSSB worked with teachers to standardize software and write interfaces that modified Windows. As Helen Keller said, "While they were saying it cannot be done, it was done." Washington blind children were the nation's first to access standard software on PowerPoint and the Internet. WSSB provides school districts with software specifically designed for visually impaired children, teacher training and ongoing technical support. It all results in increased literacy and learning opportunities for kids.
Washington State School for the Blind
April, 1999
Alien Employment Certification Program

The Alien Employment Certification Program, which approves employment of non-U.S. born workers to industries struggling to fill high demand positions, suffered major funding cutbacks in 1998, cutting staff from 6 to 2. This team refused to wallow in circumstances they couldn’t control, took initiative and came up with a new automation system. They also began an innovative process to assist employers with alien employee recruitment for jobs difficult to fill with U.S. born workers, particularly for high tech manufacturers. Additionally, the team reduced per case processing time even with dramatic increases in application numbers.
Vehicle Order Contract Process January, 1999
Vehicle Order Contract Process Improvement Team

The team decided their manual processes were labor intensive and chose technology to streamline them. The new method eliminated printing and postage by faxing or e-mailing vehicle orders to vendors and customers. The process reduced staff time by 967 hours per year and response time was improved from 5 days to 1 day for both customers and suppliers. Steps were reduced from 13 to 6 and the number of people involved decreased from 8 to 3.
January, 1999

Approximately 7,500 companies report hazardous waste disposal and handling information to Ecology each year. The volume of annual information was increasing, resulting in longer time frames to obtain, analyze and report trends in hazardous waste management. Staff came up with the idea of TurboWaste, an electronic reporting system. TurboWaste reduced reporting times from 18 months to 6 months, paper reporting 86%, data requirements 25%, the cost of administrating annual reports, and the reporting burden on businesses.
January, 1999
Contractor Registration Process Improvement Team

In the past, contractor renewal processes were inefficient resulting in jobs lost by contractors. Renewals were sorted in the mailroom and left piled in pending stacks awaiting additional information. Contractors had to wait for their renewal before taking on new work. The team streamlined the Contractor Registration renewal process from 27 days to 1 day. This prevents contractors from losing jobs due to the untimely processing of renewal paperwork. Staff saved 1.5 hours per day due to reduced backlogs and, with no more sorting, the mailroom staff saved 2.5 hours a day.
Liability Reinsurance Program July, 1999
Liability Reinsurance Program

Owner/operators of underground petroleum storage tanks are required to demonstrate financial responsibility for cleanup costs. In many situations, insurance was not available or costs were prohibitive. The Pollution Liability Insurance Agency is charged with finding an affordable reinsurance program. Since inception, the premiums per tank site have dropped by more than 60%. A typical premium payment in Seattle decreased from an average $8,250 to $3,251 annually. Statewide, policyholder savings were reported at more than $2.5 million. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials chose the PLIA "the best and most successful underground tank storage program in the nation."
January, 1999
Capitol Lake Rail Yard Recycle Team

GA had to dispose of 4,000 feet of railroad track to proceed with Heritage Park construction. Standard procedure was to pay a private contractor to do the work and profit from the salvage of steel rails and railroad ties. With the Department of Corrections, they trained inmates on heavy equipment to separate and load rails. Then GA coordinated with the National Guard to transport steel and rail ties to salvage. Some ties were used for landscaping at the School for the Deaf. The team generated $15,000 revenue, avoided $34,000 disposal costs and saved other agencies $22,500 in rail tie expense.
July, 1999
Veterans Incarcerated Program (VIP)

More than half of King County's incarcerated veterans were African Americans with untreated drug and alcohol issues, homelessness, poverty and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The Department of Veteran's Affairs coordinated efforts with King County to provide vets with temporary housing, employment services and treatment referral. The program reduced the recidivism (return to prison) rate for program participants to less than 10% compared to nearly 40% for those not accessing services. Dollar savings measured over 12-months exceeded $835,000 and similar programs were launched in Snohomish and Pierce Counties.
October, 1999
Whatcom Watersheds Project

The goal of the Watersheds Project is to protect rivers, lakes, streams and groundwater resources in Whatcom County. It exists as a public-private partnership, educating the public and changing behaviors. In Bellingham, 300 businesses along with 500 households and city departments pledged to protect Whatcom Creek. The department surveyed businesses and households and found that most had reduced polluting behaviors as a result of the pledge. In fact, 23% reported changing four or more polluting behaviors. A car wash kept an estimated 60,000 gallons of soapy water out of the creek and the city's new oil filter crusher eliminated additional contamination.
Whatcom Watersheds Project
April, 1999
Geographic Information System (GIS)Team

Team With varying tax rates and frequently changing city/county boundaries, Revenue was forced to deal with error rates in excess of 30% from Washington businesses. Compelled to make reporting of business taxes simple and consistent, the team analyzed trends that were affecting tax-coding processes. The outcome was a Geographic Information System (GIS) on the Internet allowing taxpayers free access to proper coding by location(s). No other state has a comparable application. Revenue's solution influenced a national commission studying how taxes get applied to Internet sales by offering methods of determining rates for companies conducting business in multiple states. The best news - they now report an error rate of less than 5% for GIS accounts.
Performance Measurement Process Improvement January, 1999
Performance Measurement Process Improvement Team

ESD needed a standardized, visual electronic tool for capturing critical performance measurement information agency-wide, in an efficient and readily accessible manner. The team conducted research then tested and fine-tuned a series of linked spreadsheets. The resulting template is available on the department's wide-area-network (WAN) and is electronically linked to a one-page master report of graphs, quantitative data and narrative information. Their effort has resulted in increased efficiency, reduced labor costs and the elimination of redundancies. Data is readily accessible to management to support better decision making.
July, 1999
Improving Medication Distribution at Western State Hospital

It took 200 hours to refill patient medications at Western State Hospital. Nurses performed pick ups and deliveries, medications created storage problems and wards experienced downtimes while prescriptions were being filled. These issues created confusion and errors in medication dispensation. Hospital pharmacy, nursing and computer staff analyzed the process and determined methods for improvement. They decided to purchase an automated unit-dosing dispensing machine, which fills prescriptions at near 100% accuracy using easy-open packets. Pharmacy staff deliver and refill medications in less time and allow nurses relief from the process. The equipment uses less expensive bulk medications, so the hospital saves another $50,000 annually!
Improving Medication Distribution
January, 1999
Nursing Facility Rate Setting Process

The Aging and Adult Services Administration had legislative mandates to develop a new Nursing Facility Medicaid payment system. An Office of Rates Management team examined ways to streamline and consolidate work. They noted that existing payment systems took five years for final resolution of allowable costs and that an entire unit worked its lengthy "settlement" process. By redesigning functions, payments are now completed in two years or less. Drawn-out settlement processes were eliminated. $15 million in unallowable costs was identified for one year, producing direct program savings and reduced nursing home payment growth.
Digital Government

Washington State continues to seek innovative ways to use the Internet to serve citizens. It is the leading state in implementing digital technologies and it has won the "Digital State" award from the Progress and Freedom Foundation two years in a row. Government Technology magazine named Access Washington - the state's Internet portal -- Best State Government Web Site, while Internet Week and Network Computing magazines honored the state with a Business on the Internet award for Best Public Service Site. In 1999, Washington received three National Association of State Information Resource Executives awards for outstanding achievement in the field of information technology:

  • Service Applications: Access Washington, the state's Internet web portal
  • Networking: K-20 Educational Telecommunications Network, linking the schools and educational institutions throughout the state
  • Administrative Applications: Data Warehouse, on-line human resource personnel data for state employees

Our digital government goal is to bring citizens and business easy Internet access to government information and services.

Current Services Available on the Internet: