Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Governor's Leadership Conference
June 7, 2000
Glad to See You All
I'm glad to see you all.
I'm honored to be here, standing before this large group of Washington State government leaders who work hard every day to serve the people of Washington.
I want to talk to you today about the tremendous strides you have taken in reaching many of the goals I set for you during my first term as governor.
It is because of you that state government is:
Working so well.
Working hard to deliver services that our citizens need and want.
And working hard to provide those services efficiently and effectively.
I also want to outline for you some of my expectations for the coming year as - together - we pursue a common legacy that makes a difference for generations to come.
Election Year Ahead
As you know, I announced last month that I will seek re-election.
You Are Not Involved in Election
Though we face the turmoil of an election season, I want you, as state government's leaders to remember that you're not involved in the election process. There's a wall between your work and the campaigns.
That said, campaign season means deeper scrutiny of our performance, our record.
Don't be discouraged by what you hear from the critics, because we've got a record we can be proud of.
No administration has succeeded like ours in improving education opportunities for our citizens - from kindergarten through college.
We also made big gains in health care, public safety and many other areas.
Top Four in Governing
And Washington was among four states receiving the highest ranking in overall management from Governing Magazine and the Government Performance Project of Syracuse University's Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.
As we look to the months ahead, what I want from you is a commitment to keep driving forward, keep improving the way this government does business.
My Core Vision
First and foremost today, I want to convey to all of you my core vision of what Washington State government can be - indeed must be - in these changing, challenging times.
Ladies and gentlemen, we are living in a time of enormous change, riding a river of change that is taking us toward tomorrow at an ever-accelerating rate.
Like a Kayaker on the Toughest Rapids
And we in state government must learn to ride that change with the skill, determination and joy of a kayaker on the toughest rapids of the Skykomish River.
Change Is Here
Look at what it takes just to qualify for an entry-level job these days.
I'm not sure I could qualify for this particular job.
As you can see, it's not that change is just "in the wind."
It's here. Accept it. Enjoy it. Get into it.
Don't Resist Change
Because resistance to change is almost always based on illusion and almost always a dead-end street.
In his book, The Prince, Machievelli wrote: "It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things."
He wrote: "For the reformer has enemies and only lukewarm defenders. He (or she) must confront the disbelief of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they actually experience it."
Focus on Getting Results
In state government, we've got to change a culture too preoccupied with process. We've got to focus on getting results.
Instead of wasting energy by resisting change, I want you to harness your skills and your imaginations to shoot for rapid recovery - for instant realignment.
If you take personal responsibility for adapting to change, your employees will too.
Make no mistake.
Embracing that vision is not easy, and, as your employees will tell you, not always comfortable.
You Are the Reformers
You - all of you here today - the people who I count on to carry out the changes we must make - are in a tough position.
You are the reformers, but at the same time, you are the individuals who must shake off your own disbelief and begin to experience something new.
The Changes Around Us
To put this in context, consider the great changes all around us.
In 1950, 73 percent of U.S. workers were employed in production and manufacturing. Now, less than 15 percent work in that sector.
Closer to home, more than half of our state employees are 45 or older, and 15 percent are 55 or older. Over the next four years, we face a tremendous drain on experience from state offices as people retire.
Our Most Important Product
Today, nearly three quarters of U.S. employees work in the services sector, and "knowledge" is becoming our most important product.
There has been more "information" generated in the last 30 years than during the previous 5,000. And the information supply doubles every five years.
Our Workplaces Are Different
Now that we are fully engaged in the information age, our workplaces are radically different than they were even three years ago.
The way we work is different.
Our relationships with our employees are changed, and our approach to our customers is radically evolving.
As Steve Kolodney pointed out a few minutes ago, the Internet has given citizens unprecedented access to state government and promises the opportunity for us to streamline how we operate as a government.
We need to be able to compete and survive in this ever-changing landscape. I believe that the leaders in this room are up to that challenge.
Look at What You have Achieved
Let's pause for a moment and look at what you already have achieved.
Since we launched our quality improvement initiative in 1997, you have delivered more than 1,350 measurable quality improvements.
These improvements resulted in savings to taxpayers of $57 million, and a revenue increase of more than $23 million.
They saved businesses and other agencies more than $95 million.
And they saved more than 625,000 state staff hours because of improved work procedures.
Your Stellar Work
Let me share a few examples of the stellar work you are doing:
Food Stamp Error Rate
Food stamps: In Fiscal Year 1998, Washington had the worst food-stamp error-rate of any state in the country. It was an error rate of more than 15 percent.
The Department of Social and Health Services tackled the problem, and within a year, we led all states in making the most dramatic improvement in accuracy in the last 20 years. We went from 50th to 18th.
I asked DSHS to do what they at first thought was impossible, and that was to reduce the error rate to 7 percent in Fiscal Year 2000. Well, they made it, folks.
We did this through use of our quality-improvement tools and sheer, hard work. We knew we had to make changes, and we did it.
Worker Compensation Refund
For the first time in state history, the Department of Labor and Industries gave Washington employers - 130,000 of them - a $200 million workers' compensation tax refund. At the same time, premium rates for workers' compensation dropped by 19 million.
The presidents of our community and technical colleges have stepped up to the challenge of working with businesses and communities to train and retrain our citizens for the jobs of tomorrow.
At the Department of Ecology, they have levied $3 million in fines for pollution violations. That's up 75 percent, compared to the previous administration.
At Revenue, the electronic tax filing system made Washington the first state in the nation to deliver a program over the Internet that computes taxes and enables businesses to file and pay their tax returns automatically.
I wanted the first Promise Scholarships to be available as soon as possible. And the HEC Board staff got the job done, awarding the first of these scholarships to the high school class of 1999.
Here's another example. At the Department of General Administration, they agreed to find ways to cut costs so their central-stores prices are 20 percent lower than in the private sector. Their actual results were more than 26 percent lower.
Savings Incentive Program
Through your efforts to find savings within your agencies, our Savings Incentive Program has provided $143 million in cold, hard cash for school construction.
And how about this for real innovation among big changes in the workplace?
The Department of Personnel's college recruitment program has reduced hiring time of college graduates from three to six months down to one to two days. Hiring of minority and women graduates also is increasing.
This is a great example of how we can adjust to big challenges in the state workplace - both in terms of creating a diverse workforce and making state government attractive to the best and brightest college graduates.
Nurture Leadership Potential
I know many of you were here before I arrived as governor, and many will be here after I'm gone.
Indeed, on average, each of you has 15 years of experience in state government, including three and one-half years in your current position.
As I mentioned earlier, many of the top managers in state government are at or nearing retirement age.
I think that as we consider what legacy we want to leave behind, we should look ahead and consider the need for a new generation of leaders in state government who will continue to move our state forward.
Make your employees proud to be pursing careers in public service. Nurture their leadership abilities, their talent, their creativity.
Let them take risks, and don't punish the risk takers if they fail while making good-faith efforts to improve state government.
Don't just look at your staff as today's employees.
Look at them as tomorrow's senior management.
They Need Your Guidance
They need your guidance, your help, your example - to follow.
Frankly, they need to learn your jobs and learn to shoulder the responsibilities of leadership.
What I Expect
Here are just some of the things we need to emphasize in the coming year.
I ask you to continue to focus on my core goals and values - building the best education system in the nation, making sure families are healthy and safe, and preserving our environment so that people have the water they need, and salmon have the cold, pure water essential to their survival.
We must strive to protect our citizens' privacy rights, to make sure our vulnerable adults and children are cared for and protected.
nd we must create a thriving, diverse economy that benefits all of Washington - One Washington.
I ask you to make better use of the electronic tools at your fingertips, to use the untapped power of technology and the Internet, to bring you closer to the people you serve.
Cut Red Tape
We must cut red tape.
We must make government easier to access and easier to use.
This isn't cutting edge in the private sector anymore.
It's the norm, and it's expected.
I also want to see the flow of paper within and between agencies reduced to a trickle, and what is left replaced by e-mail and the intra-net.
I expect you to continue to look for ways to make your operations more efficient.
We simply must do this, not only to meet the mandates of Initiative 601, but to free up money for what is vitally important - education, public safety, the environment.
As many of you have already been informed, we will face challenging times next year in meeting our commitments to both the state spending limit and service demands.
We will meet those commitments, and we will do it in ways that do not damage our services or our priorities.
I encourage you to pursue meaningful Balanced Scorecard performance measures. We need discipline to make sure we are focusing on the right activities, and being accountable to citizens.
Ask yourselves: Are your management meetings about producing results?
Because they should be.
Performance measures can be a great tool for getting results - if you use them.
Get from Strategy to Results
The Balanced Scorecard for salmon recovery, developed by the Joint Natural Resources Cabinet, is a fine example of how to get from strategy to results.
Our farmworker housing program is another.
Budgeting in you agencies will continue to be a zero-sum game in the next biennium.
Adding to one program means that another will have to be reduced.
Health Care Costs Rising
That's because health care costs are rising sharply, consuming extra spending allowed under the spending cap.
Creating the best schools in the nation requires continued investment.
Making our schools and communities safer has a price.
And Initiative 601, limiting expenditures, is the law.
No Extra Money
As we look toward the next biennium, we already can see that the cost of simply maintaining existing programs, including cost-of-living increases, will exceed our spending limit.
So don't plan on any extra money being available.
Focus on What's Important
And that means we all will have to continue to think the way we have been - focusing on what is most important for us to accomplish as leaders, as agencies.
We've got to spend public dollars where they really and truly are needed, so we can say when our time is done that we really made a difference.
To handle the budget challenge, and all the others around us, we will have to be fleet of foot and comfortable with change, real change.
This spring, the Legislature approved my plan for reducing the size of the state workforce by almost 1,500 FTEs.
I expect you to manage the situation so that no one has to be laid off.
Rely on attrition.
Ask yourself: Do I really need to fill this position?
Change Can Be Tough
Yes, change can be very tough.
But I challenge you to become quick-change artists in the best sense of the phrase.
Our organizations, our agencies, must keep reshaping themselves, shifting and flexing to fit our rapidly changing world.
I challenge you to commit fully to your job.
Because taxpayers are demanding more.
And as we also know, they are not beyond taking matters into their own hands when they're fired up.
Sure, it would be nice if we all had more money and people to work with, but that is no excuse for failing to make the best possible use of the resources that we have now.
Indeed, getting more out of the resources you already have, especially finding ways to unleash the energies and creativity of the people you work with, is the only certain source of new capacity that is available in state government.
Take Personal Responsibility
We all will be more successful if we assume personal responsibility for what we want most for our state government - and that's the respect of the people we serve.
We must take responsibility for the whole enterprise, not just our little piece of it.
We're All in This Together
There is an African saying: "I am because we are."
And it means we're all in this together.
Reach and Stretch to Do Better To achieve our goals, we must reach and stretch to perform feats of good government that did not seem possible until we simply decided to do something new, and then accomplished the goal.
School for the Blind
Do you know that the information-technology team at the Washington State School for the Blind accomplished what even Microsoft said could not be done?
These miracle workers rewrote computer programs that enable visually impaired children to use PowerPoint and the Internet.
It Can Be Done
What this means is that visually impaired children now can use PowerPoint to create for sighted people the same sort of images that you see me using here today.
As Helen Keller said: "While they were saying it cannot be done, it was done."
Leadership Is an Art
For you to continue to be successful leaders, you must realize that leadership is an art.
A true leader is a servant.
You must lead by doing.
Don't Squander Our Chance
Each day that we govern is a precious opportunity to help children in our schools - and every citizen across our state - realize their dreams.
We cannot squander the chance.
We Can Make a Difference
We as leaders must show through our own actions what caring, purposeful, committed people can do in the workplace.
I want you all to be the best you can be - the best at embracing and managing change as we ride these rapids, ride this rapid change into the 21st century.
Together, your commitment and your leadership are changing the way we govern.