Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

Reinventing government:
Transformation Initiative cuts red tape, saves money


woman pointing to process map
In process improvement events, the people who work within the process map out the flow of work in detail, step by step, to create a visual depiction of the process. They then work to eliminate unnecessary steps and explore ways to boost quality.

Cutting red tape to deliver better, faster services to Oregonians at less cost has never been more important.


Record-breaking numbers of Oregonians are turning to the state for help in weathering the economic recession. State government is struggling to meet the demand with dwindling resources.


The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) and Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are leading the reinvention of government through its Transformation Initiative, proving that public agencies can change during tough times in ways that truly matter to the people of our state.


A 2007 pilot led to the development of a roadmap for change and in late 2008, the implementation of the Transformation Initiative began.


Through transformation, DHS and OHA are:

  • Cutting red tape in our processes to deliver better services to clients faster;
  • Helping employees meet growing demands for services with fewer people and less funding;
  • Engaging with our partners to increase the consistency and quality of DHS and OHA services provided to Oregonians by partners across the state;
  • Increasing transparency and accountability; and,
  • Saving money

Thirty-five improvement initiatives producing benefits valued at $106.5 million, and marked gains in customer service and quality have been completed. Another 70 improvement initiatives are in progress. Through the work of front-line employees guided by staff trained in transformation tools such as Lean, DHS and OHA are:

  • Cutting the wait time for food assistance by nine days. Although applicants have increased by 48 percent since July 2008, today about 90 percent of clients are being seen the same day or next day.
  • Fast-tracking the hiring of 85 Certified Nursing Assistants at Oregon State Hospital to reduce mandatory overtime for staff that provides direct care to patients at the psychiatric facility.
  • Moving more than 1,200 Medicaid clients from nursing facilities to less expensive, long-term care settings better suited to the client's needs.
  • Making process changes that prevent the state from paying or having to recover Medicaid or Medicare funds from claims a third-party should pay, saving the state money and cutting the time health plans and providers spend correcting client information.

Employee-driven improvement efforts

Making processes more effective and efficient is one part of the larger goal of the Transformation Initiative. The ultimate goal of the Transformation Initiative is for DHS and OHA to become continuously improving organizations to establish them as a leading health and human services agency and model for effective state government.


For DHS and OHA, being a continuously improving organization means all employees use data to measure performance and know how to use simple tools to make small improvements in the way the agency's work is done every day. To establish continuous improvement as the way we work daily, Employees at all levels being taught a simple, standard system and tools called the Lean Daily Management System® (LDMS®). LDMS provides a methodology for individuals and work units to constantly review their processes to find and act on opportunities to improve.


"Our transformation is essential. It empowers workers to make decisions and changes in the way we do our work. In our current economic crisis, it is absolutely essential to cut out waste in our processes so we can help more people as the demand for services skyrockets. In cutting waste, we are also cutting costs helping us to preserve services and jobs," said Carlie K. Jackson, an employee in the Oregon Health Plan Processing Center in Salem. "LDMS has already made a huge impact here and the potential is exciting."


woman pointing to process map
In process improvement events, a team of people who work within the process map it, pick it apart to remove unnecessary steps and rebuild a more effective, efficient process.
At the end of every event, the team presents to leadership its plan to quickly move to the improved process.