Missouri Governor Blunt Commends State Employee Work Teams For Efficiency, Productivity


Jefferson City, MO  (CompNewsNetwork) -  Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt congratulated five state employee work teams for receiving the prestigious Governor's Award for Quality and Productivity.

This is the 20th annual award recognizing the efforts of state employee work teams whose efforts serve as an example of continuous improvement, quality, and productivity in Missouri state government.  This year, 32 nominations were submitted for five categories: Customer Service, Efficiency, Innovation, Process Improvement, and Technology in Government.

"The Governor's Award for Quality and Productivity honors Missouri's state employees who have answered my call to serve the people of Missouri by focusing on effectiveness, efficiency and quality of services and products," Gov. Blunt said.  "I commend the work and dedication of these state employees to improve customer service and deliver enhanced services for Missourians." 

Following is a brief description of each team's project:

CUSTOMER SERVICE - The I-64 Closure Command Team - Department of Transportation/Department of Public Safety

The Missouri Department of Transportation's reconstruction of Interstate 64 in St. Louis City and County included closing five miles of the interstate beginning January 2, 2008 for one year.  This closure would displace 170,000 vehicles per day to the region's other roads and had the potential to profoundly impact the daily lives of thousands of Missouri motorists in a negative way.  In advance of the closure, MoDOT worked together with St. Louis County and Gateway Constructors to make system improvements to all the region's roads to help traffic move more effectively.  This preparatory process built relationships among the agencies as the closure date drew near. 

The I-64 Closure Command Team was organized to ensure MoDOT and its partners were knowledgeable of the condition and operations of the region's transportation system, actively managing travel reliability and communicating conditions to the public.  To achieve the purpose of the team - to do everything possible to minimize the impact of the project – the team was divided into sub-teams focusing on areas including interstates, arterials, law enforcement, maintenance, liaison with local cities, public information, St. Louis County, St. Louis City and Metro.  Members worked from a central location to facilitate teamwork and efficient problem solving.  The sub-teams used staff in the field and staff monitoring sensors and computers to gather the information real-time during each rush period. The information was quickly collected and reported at 10 a.m. and 8 p.m., following the morning and evening rush and was then shared publicly in a news conference at 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. to ensure timeliness.

The closure of I-64 occurred on January 2, 2008 with the region's traffic flowing better in some areas than before the closure.  Incremental changes in signal timing on key arterials fine-tuned the trouble spots.  Problems were identified, evaluated, and solved – often within hours of the first notice.  Motorists used the traffic information resources that had been developed by the team to find their recommended alternate routes, and business offered flexible schedules to their employees and location or delivery options for their customers. 

In some of the most impacted areas, commute times were no more than 25 percent longer than before the closure.  A survey of motorists and stakeholders indicated that 90 percent felt they were kept well informed about the closure.  The success of this unprecedented collective and cooperative effort in Missouri is undeniable, and other states are now using the lessons learned from the team's experience in similar projects.

EFFICIENCY - Mail Consolidation Team - Office of Administration; Departments of Agriculture; Conservation; Corrections; Economic Development; Elementary and Secondary Education; Health and Senior Services; Higher Education; Insurance, Financial Institution, and Professional Registration; Labor and Industrial Relations; Mental Health; Natural Resources; Public Safety; Revenue; Social Services; and Transportation

The Mail Consolidation Team recommended solutions that streamlined operations, lowered cost and improved mail services for Missouri State Government.  The team, comprised of one or more representatives from each executive state agency, successfully consolidated twenty-three individual mailrooms into one centralized operation, dramatically improving efficiencies in all aspects of mail services.  In just one year mail consolidation has:

Reduced required staffing levels by 33 percent, from 30 to 20 FTE's

Reduced required postal metering equipment by 78 percent, from 23 to 5

Reduced vehicles utilized for mail operations by 67 percent, from 24 to 8

Increased average annual postage savings by 8 percent

Saved the State of Missouri more than $1.1 million

Prior to the team's efforts, each agency operated one or more individual mailrooms, resulting in significant administrative and operational redundancies, as well as under-utilized equipment and resources.  In eleven executive agencies, more than 30 state employees worked in 23 mailrooms, operated 23 mail machines with reserve accounts and meter balances that tied up over $500,000 in state funds and drove 24 vehicles more than 180,000 miles per year, all to provide mail services for state agencies in the Jefferson City area.

The team was free to consider any option and make any recommendation.  Numerous factors, including significant duplication in resources and services, rising postage rates and mandated mail equipment replacement, drove the discussions, analysis, and recommendations.  Remarkably the team, representing sixteen state agencies with unique needs and perspectives, voted unanimously to pursue the internal consolidation of mail services.

All state agencies played a critical role in this highly successful effort.  With strong support from the Commissioner of Administration, the mail consolidation effort was initiated in September 2006.  Personnel and resources from all 23 mailrooms were brought together and merged into Central Mail Services.  The value brought by this team's efforts continues.

INNOVATION - Asthma Care Training for Missouri's School and Child Care Workforce - Department of Health and Senior Services/Missouri School Boards Association/University of Missouri/Southeast Missouri State University/OpenHealth, LLC

In Missouri, approximately 400,000 adults and nearly 111,000 children under 8 years old reported that they were currently living with asthma.  Over one third of Missouri adults with asthma reported they were first diagnosed at or under the age of 10. 

The Missouri Asthma Prevention and Control Program (MAPCP) creates "room at the table" for many organizations for planning as well as fostering collaboration.  MAPCP and its project team have made substantial progress in developing workforce capacity at the community level to address the needs of children with asthma.  In collaboration with a committee of practicing school nurses, MAPCP created the nationally recognized Missouri Asthma School Manual and coordinated its distribution to approximately 2,000 school nurses in Missouri.  The manual provides easy-to-use forms, training materials and other resources for practicing school nurses.  

Building from the success of the manual, MAPCP coordinated programs for nearly 500 school nurses to attend the Becoming an Asthma Care Manager and Educator course, an evidence-based program developed and sponsored by the Association of Asthma Educators.  Missouri leads the nation in individuals completing this program.

Recognizing that children under age 6 are the most at-risk for hospitalization or emergency room visits for asthma, MAPCP developed training for childcare providers.  From September 2006 through May of 2008 over 2,000 childcare workers received asthma-specific training.  To expand the skills of school personnel in dealing with children with asthma or at-risk for asthma, MAPCP developed an in-service DVD program that allows schools to efficiently train teachers, coaches, bus drivers, cafeteria workers, etc. on the fundamentals of asthma management and their role in supporting children with asthma. 

The DVD package includes three other health topics prioritized by school health survey results – head lice, diabetes, and seizure.  MAPCP's workforce development has also addressed the needs of policy-makers at the local level through a partnership with the Missouri School Boards Association (MSBA).  MSBA has added an asthma module to its mandatory training for all newly elected school board members.  The team set forth innovative goals to increase Missouri's ability to coordinate and manage asthma care for children by training a statewide workforce whom now have the proper knowledge and skill.  Workforce development is an ongoing project and will continue to be a central feature of MAPCP's strategy to improve the well being of Missouri's children with asthma.

PROCESS IMPROVEMENT - Dealer Renewal Team - Department of Revenue

The Missouri Department of Revenue issues dealer licenses to over 6,000 vehicle and marine craft dealers on an annual basis.  All renewal notifications are mailed in September of each year and are required to be renewed by December 31 of the same year.  This creates an influx of activities specifically in November and December.  The old process was inefficient and resulted in long wait times for dealers, a high reject rate of transactions because of insufficient application information, and a delay in the issuance of dealer plates.  The inefficiency of the old system even resulted in dealers running on expired dealer plates in January 2007 because they were not provided with current plates in a timely manner.

The team identified 16 necessary changes to the dealer renewal process that could be implemented immediately to improve customer service.  The recommended changes were implemented and provided dealers with clearer communications, reduction in steps, quicker turnaround time for licenses to be mailed to dealers and for dealer plates to be delivered to dealers, cross-training of staff to handle multiple job functions and less rejected transactions for incomplete information.

In addition, dealers were greeted in a newly renovated customer service center.  The new center provides a more professional atmosphere not only for dealer customers but also for title and registration customers and the office staff.  The team was able to reduce wait time, reduce the number of rejected transactions, and better respond to phone inquiries and issue dealer licenses and dealer plates more efficiently and timely.  The congested flow of customers and long wait times did not exist this past November and December and dealers did not have to drive on expired plates.

TECHNOLOGY IN GOVERNMENT - The eFolder Project - Department of Labor and Industrial Relations/Office of Administration

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations' Employment Security Division and the Office of Administration's Information Technology Services Division achieved a completely paperless operation by developing and implementing the eFolder System, one of the most advanced electronic document management systems in the country for unemployment insurance benefit claim processing.  The initial challenge was to document all current and future business processes in order to convert the manual workflow and paper document file system to an electronic process.  The goals were to improve staff productivity and customer service, reduce cost and risk, and provide for disaster recovery.

Improved customer service, productivity, reduction in risk, and cost were realized through an instant electronic redistribution of workload for maximum utilization of staff in all four RCC's.  With the implementation of the eFolder System, 14 percent fewer staff resolved 7.8 percent more cases in 2008 over the same quarter in the two previous years.  Such a substantial increase could not have been realized without the eFolder System.  Additionally, annual expenditures for mailing, faxing, and printing were $104,268 which was immediately eliminated upon implementation of eFolder and payroll savings of $2,971,056 are anticipated based on current production and staff levels. 

The Division of Employment Security (DES) realized an exceptional increase in processing cases from 54,027 in the first quarter of 2006 to 58,201 in the first quarter of 2008.  This is a 25 percent increase in production per technician.  Prior to the eFolder System, customers calling the RCC often had to wait for staff to find their paper files.  If the file did not reside at that RCC, the caller had to phone the center where the file was located.  eFolder provides reduced phone time and improved customer service by providing all staff immediate access to information for customers statewide. 

Originally the DES had no disaster recovery plan.  A disaster striking one RCC could potentially wipe out over 25 percent of the active claims documents.  The daily transport of completed case documents to Central Office from three remote sites for imaging came with a risk and liability of losing documents for thousands of claimants.  With eFolder, all correspondence is received in Jefferson City, immediately scanned, and distributed electronically to the appropriate RCC affording complete recovery capability.

As the future of the DES continues to operate in the ever changing dynamics unemployment insurance environment, the eFolder System is poised to adapt to these changes and allow for future enhancements.

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