Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
National Association of State Workforce Agencies
September 16, 2003

Good afternoon. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Welcome to Seattle, Washington state and summer!

I want to begin by thanking our Commissioner, Dr. Sylvia Mundy. I really appreciate that thoughtful and flattering introduction.

But what I really want to thank Sylvia for is her effective leadership. We have one of the top Employment Security Departments in the nation. And the credit goes to Sylvia and her team.

Serving the public. That’s what all the workforce agencies across America do and we strive to be better everyday.

We’ve been working hard to improve the quality and performance of all our state agencies since 1997, when I took office. One of the first things I did was to issue an Executive Order to improve agency performance and customer service. I directed all agencies to develop and implement a program to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their services. With specific requirements for plans and accountability. And the agencies responded. We’ve made very good progress.

We followed up with another Executive Order intended to further improve customer service requiring agencies to review service delivery methods with appropriate advisory or citizen groups.

We directed agencies to identify service delivery areas that do not meet customer or client expectations for timeliness, accuracy, clarity or understandability. Agencies are now addressing these problem areas—and establishing service delivery standards.

One of the ways we’ve worked to better serve our citizens is through technology. We’ve made a concerted effort over the past five years to use technology to make Washington state government more efficient and more accessible. And we’ve made great progress. Washington state started this year by being recognized as the number one digital state government in the country by the Sustained Leadership Award from the Center for Digital Government and the Progress and Freedom Foundation.

And agencies like Employment Security have helped put us on top. The improvements have been innovative and effective and noticeable to individuals and employers. Unemployment claims can now be filed online and by telephone. Employers can pay taxes online.

The Department won a first place award a few weeks ago from this organization for its Workforce Explorer website. The site gives customers a wealth of economic and employment information.

Improved efficiency. More accessibility for citizens to services, programs and information. Innovative technology. Better customer service. We are moving in the right direction here in Washington!

That’s what all the workforce agencies are embarked upon across America. You’re all moving the right direction!

I am confident that each of you has success stories and lessons learned to share too. That’s what makes this conference so valuable. You are our country’s experts in workforce administration. You are the leaders. In tough economic times like these, you play such a vital role. Our citizens rely on you and your teams for help and for hope. And you routinely come through, millions of times every day across this nation.

Your work is critical to your state’s economy. Developing the workforce and helping people find good jobs are key activities for economic recovery and for our future.

I have great confidence in the Employment Security Department of our state. And I thank all of you for your vital contribution to your own states. Your work makes a difference, and you change people’s lives for the better every single day. Thank you for the work you do to make our country a better place to live—and to work.

Enjoy this conference, and enjoy your visit to our beautiful state. And keep up the good work!

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