Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Governor’s Award for Quality and Performance
May 3, 2004

Good afternoon. Welcome to the Governor’s Award for Quality and Performance.

It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as your governor the past seven-plus years. I am very proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish together for Washington. These accomplishments include significant improvements in government efficiency and accessibility.

The improvements we’ve made in state government are a direct reflection of our outstanding state workforce. I believe Washington has the top state employee team in the country.

This isn’t just my opinion. We have the national recognition and awards to prove it. Twice, we’ve been named in the top five as one of the Best Managed States in America and we’ve been named first place for the Digital State Government Award for three years.

That’s why I always look forward to presenting these awards. This is a great opportunity to focus on some of the outstanding work that is done by Washington state employees.

I just had a chance to review these displays, and I am very impressed. The award-winners today are truly “the best of the best.”

State workers are the face of our government. You provide the direct interaction with our citizens. I value and deeply appreciate the hard work and dedication every one of you devotes to your job, day in and day out.

At a time when more people need state services, we've had to make do with limited resources. We have a growing state population with shrinking revenues. This places higher demands on you—and makes your work that much more important.

Despite challenging times, you’ve all found some great ways to improve the services we offer and the value we provide to the public. That’s why we’re here—to recognize this commitment and ingenuity.

Another reason we’re here is to identify models of excellence. When one team comes up with a great idea, it’s usually an idea that other state teams can follow too. Today’s award winners teach three valuable lessons. These are lessons that can be applied across state government.

First, leadership is essential. It is essential to ensuring accountability and improving performance.

The Washington State Patrol’s commitment to tracking performance and relentlessly following up is paying off. Not just in more tickets—but in reduced fatalities from DUIs and speeding and reduced injuries because more people are using seatbelts. The Strategic Advancement Forum Team is showing what can be accomplished when managers are empowered to lead and the agency is strategically aligned.

Lesson number two is listen to the customer. We must continue to pay attention to those we serve. What are their needs? How can we better serve them? When we focus on customer service, the results are better for our clients and for the public we serve.

The Northwest Deaf Addiction Center encouraged treatment programs that included staff members who could communicate in sign language. This raised completion rates for deaf and hard of hearing clients needing alcohol or drug abuse treatment. It also significantly reduced taxpayer costs by not needing separate sign interpreters.

Revenue asked taxpayers what would make it easier for them to understand the law and pay the taxes due. They listened and launched two programs: a call center and an education program that together have brought in over $20 million. New revenue our state can use for schools, health care, or transportation improvements.

And the Department of Health listened to kids about why they smoke and what would help them stop. The resulting ad campaign reduced the number of young smokers by about 53,000 over two years—a 40% rate of decline that is nearly double the national rate of decline.

The third lesson taught by today’s winners is that partnering works wonders. When we work together, we find better solutions.

DSHS teamed with U.S. Bank to help families receive their child support payments more quickly and easily using electronic cards that provide in-store credits to the families. Too many families don’t have checks. More taxpayer savings.

General Administration led a multi-agency, public/private partnership to build the state’s first new co-located campus—UW-Bothell and Cascadia Community College. This returned $6.5 million to the state and won national recognition for functionality and environmental responsibility.

Leadership is essential, listen to the customer, and partnering works wonders. These tried and true concepts for improvement are superbly illustrated by today’s winners.

The projects we’re recognizing today have one other critical characteristic in common. They are all examples of caring about and helping people. This is the most important lesson of all. We are at our best when we remember our fundamental purpose—to serve the public and help people.

I am proud of today’s award-winners, and proud of all our state employees. Thank you for a job well-done, and keep up the great work.

And thank you to our judges and the screening panel for taking the time to give all of our exceptional entries the careful consideration that they deserve.

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