Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Governor’s Leadership Conference
June 14, 2004
Thank you Dennis. Good morning everyone.
It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as your governor the past seven-and-a-half years. We’ve come a long way together. I am very proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish for Washington, for Washington state government and for the people of Washington state.
Over the past several years, I have had the pleasure of presenting many quality awards and distinguished management awards to state employees and managers. I have seen firsthand the exceptional work of our team at these events. And it is inspiring. I am always very impressed by the determination, intelligence and creativity of this team in solving problems, improving government, and responding to challenges. If we were competing directly with the private sector, many of the projects and achievements I’ve presented awards would deserve a place on the cover of the Fortune 500 annual report. And I’ve always lamented that we haven’t been able to get more recognition among the public of your outstanding innovations and achievements.
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 one of the five Best Managed States in America and we’ve won the Digital State Government Award for three years. And most recently, we’ve been named the number one government in the country by the National Policy Research Council.
But a team is only as good as its leaders. And you are the leaders of our outstanding state employee team. You have successfully met rising demands with diminishing resources. The people of Washington depend on you and all of our state employees, every single day. And you never let them down.
So let me first say thank you for your stellar work during my tenure as Governor. And thank you in advance for a strong finishing kick as we head down the seven-month home stretch.
As I said, I am very proud of all that we’ve accomplished. I looked over the surveys you completed in preparation for this event, it is clear that you are proud too.
And for good reason. Consider some of the achievements you singled out in responding to the survey:
Together we’ve made Washington the gold standard in digital government. Washington citizens can now access countless services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We are able to renew vehicle tabs, pay taxes, get boat-mooring permits, obtain fishing licenses, and fill out job applications—all online. The Washington State Patrol now harnesses the power of the Internet to launch Amber alerts.
We’re also using other technology applications externally with such programs as the Stored Value card, and internally with global e-mail and intranets.
Priorities of Government—POG—is another major, breakthrough achievement that many of you mentioned in the survey. The POG process has been a totally new way of budgeting and prioritizing all state programs. And POG is working. We’ve successfully funded the services that matter most with the money we had. And we became a role model for other states and local governments within our state.
We avoided a general tax increase at a critical time for Washington’s economy. We cut or avoided spending by $2.6 billion. Yes, it hurt. But we managed this reduction without a crisis. And without dismantling core services to the people of our state.
Some of you mentioned how we’ve also saved millions of dollars and FTEs through the relentless pursuit of improvements and efficiencies.
And how we’ve improved communities by putting offender work crews to better use. You noted that we’ve made our communities safer—safer from the threat of bioterrorism, and safer from the presence of high-risk offenders.
And you noted that we’ve made our workplaces safer too. Workplace injuries and illnesses have dropped by 21% since 1997.
Your survey responses were interesting—and reaffirming. We work in a very different state government than when I took office in 1997. A more accessible, efficient, customer-focused and cost-effective state government. We’re working smarter, and we’re getting better results. We’ve made significant advances in public service. The people of our state are better served and better off for these advances.
Your leadership made these advances possible. Again and again, you have faced formidable challenges. Challenges that seemed to come from every direction. Budget shortfalls. A major earthquake. The rise of terrorism and the considerable burden of coping with it through Homeland Security.
Again and again you faced such challenges. Again and again you responded. You’ve always responded with determination and resourcefulness. You’ve consistently found a way to get the job done—and done well.
You’ve found ways to leverage the resources we have through partnerships with other public and private entities. You’ve pressed on in the face of misguided initiatives and substantial setbacks.
Good leadership has been the key.
Good leaders collaborate, and you’ve collaborated energetically. Collaboration has allowed us to successfully improve our salmon recovery efforts. Collaboration has made WorkFirst and our welfare reform effort a resounding success. Our enterprise-wide approach to Y2K made the arrival of 2000 an event of glitz without glitches. And the DIS Digital Academy now provides a forum where agencies can learn together—and learn from experts from outside state government.
Good leaders manage for results and objectives instead of just following the rules. Your work on Priorities of Government epitomized refocusing our state government on results. Together these past seven and one half years, we’ve done a better job of clearly articulating expectations. And we’ve adopted objective quantifiable measures of performance to track our progress and show the value we add—or make the changes we need to add more value.
Good leaders embrace fresh perspectives. Together you have done just that, looking at our government from the citizen’s point of view. Seeing things from the standpoint of those to whom we deliver services. And this perspective has dramatically improved the responsiveness and accessibility of our government.
And like all good leaders, you are driven to improve even further—all across the board. You are committed to the principle that “good enough” never is. That’s why we’re implementing the biggest change in the state personnel system in 40 years—Washington Works.
Washington Works is another great collaboration. It will improve our efficiency in everything we do—from job classification to hiring and compensation, collective bargaining and competitive contracting. It will provide a better workplace and more opportunity for state employees to succeed in their careers. By overhauling the system, we will not only sharpen our state government’s competitive edge. We will also give everyone the freedom to do the best job possible.
Collaboration, results, and improving how we work—these are just some of the ways in which you are making our state an even better place to live, work and raise a family. And these are important elements of outstanding leadership.
I hold this group in the highest regard. Together, we have accomplished great things. Any incoming governor would be well-advised—and very fortunate—to leave this entire team in place. You’re that good, and your performance speaks for itself. It speaks volumes. I cannot imagine a more effective team. I am so proud of each and every one of you.
Take heart in knowing that in this governor’s opinion, you represent the best collection of leadership talent our state has ever known.
That said, don’t get the idea that I’m letting you off easy! We have seven months of opportunity before us. I intend to make the most of it. I’m confident that I can count on you to join me in charging hard to the end of this term. Together, we will continue to accomplish great things. Together, we will also make sure that the transition next January is smooth and seamless, and that the new administration is able to get off to a strong start. The people of Washington deserve no less.
Keep up the great work, and be proud. Because I am very proud of all of you.