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Office of Governor Pete Ricketts

Gov. Ricketts, DHHS Unveil Agency Business Plan and Priority Initiatives

Media Contacts:

Taylor Gage, Governor’s Office, 402-471-1970

Kathie Osterman, DHHS, 402-471-9313


Plan provides a blueprint as the agency continues to help Nebraskans build better lives.


Plan here. Audio here. Photos here.


LINCOLN – Today, Governor Pete Ricketts and the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) CEO Courtney Phillips released the DHHS business plan, a first for the agency.  The plan, “Real Improvements, Sustainable Progress, Better Lives for Nebraskans,” details 25 priority initiatives that are guiding the work of DHHS in the coming year.


“Making state government more efficient and effective, being more customer focused, and reducing regulatory complexity are three of my top priorities,” said Governor Ricketts.  “DHHS touches the lives of countless Nebraskans every day as they serve some of our most vulnerable citizens.  This business plan will result in improved services and better service from DHHS as they help Nebraskans live better lives.”


The plan follows the lead of Governor Ricketts who has improved the performance of state government through strategic actions and measureable outcomes over the course of the first 18 months of his administration.  DHHS in particular has been applauded by the public and its partners for the significant advancements it has made under new leadership.  For example, call wait times at the agency’s call center for public benefits have dropped from almost 24 minutes in August 2014 to less than five minutes in recent months.  Additionally, the state’s child welfare system exceeded all six federal standards in 2015.  Three years ago HHS met only two standards.  In the last month, the agency announced that its public health division achieved national accreditation through the Public Health Accreditation Board, a significant achievement only a small percentage of public health agencies have earned nationally.


“The DHHS team has stepped up and you can see that in our achievements during the past year,” Phillips said.  “Yet we know there is more to do.  Through the initiatives in this business plan, Nebraskans will see an even greater commitment to better government, integrity, and fiscal responsibility as we continue to improve our responsiveness and service delivery.  This plan projects that commitment and vision.”


Phillips said Governor Ricketts assembled a dynamic team of directors at DHHS who are sharing their experience and insight to develop high-quality, efficient, and customer-friendly services, and who together with staff, are improving services for Nebraskans.  She said it has been and will continue to be a full team effort.


The priority initiatives represent work across DHHS and are grouped within five categories:


Integrating Services and Partnerships.  Integrating services across DHHS into a more effective, efficient, comprehensive, and coordinated system, and working with partners, will help deliver better outcomes to people served with greater value for taxpayers.  The priority initiatives include:


  •       Heritage Health (Medicaid Managed Care)
  •       Behavioral Health System of Care for Children, Youth and Families
  •       Family-Focused Case Management in Economic Assistance
  •       Cross-Division Solutions Team


Promoting Independence through Community-Based Services.  Community-based services that are built on needs of DHHS’ varied customers provide the supports to help them maintain independence and flourish in their respective communities.  Engaging stakeholders through a focus on customer service will guide this work.  The priority initiatives include:


  •       Developmental Disability Home and Community-Based Waivers and Community-Based Transition Plan
  •       Developmental Disabilities Registry of Unmet Needs
  •       Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Redesign Project
  •       Increase Access to Evidence-Based Community Treatment Services for At-Risk Youth


Focusing on Prevention to Change Lives.  Prevention can take many forms, whether investing in healthy behaviors or improving lives through public safety efforts such as prevention of abuse and neglect.  DHHS is working with Nebraskans to achieve lifelong success and potentially save lives.  The priority initiatives include:


  •       Prescription Drug Overdose Prevention/Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
  •       Expansion of Alternative Response
  •       Reduction in Out-of-Home Placement of State Wards by Safely Expediting Reunifications


Leveraging Technology to Increase Effectiveness.  Technology is a valuable tool and resource in state government which streamlines processes, provides real-time data, and makes information more accessible, timely, and customer focused.  DHHS is looking toward the future at how its data needs will change, and what can be done now to position the agency for tomorrow and into the future.  The priority initiatives include:


  •       Improve Utilization of THERAP
  •       Developmental Disability Eligibility Determinations
  •       Medicaid Client Eligibility and Enrollment Solution
  •       Medicaid Management Information System Replacement Planning Project
  •       Veterans’ Homes Electronic Health Record and Pharmacy Management Software
  •       Behavioral Health Centralized Data System
  •       Enterprise Technology Delivery


Increasing Operating Efficiencies and Improvements.  A solid Department foundation determines future success.  A focus on improvements, efficiencies, and reduction in regulatory complexities will strengthen the Department’s culture, enhance quality and performance, and help the agency better serve Nebraskans.  The priority initiatives are:


  •       Public Health Accreditation
  •       LPN/RN Licensure Application Improvements
  •       Central Nebraska Veterans’ Home
  •       Employee Recruitment and Retention
  •       Improve Flow and Decrease Wait List at Lincoln Regional Center
  •       Maintain and Improve ACCESSNebraska Performance for Economic Assistance Programs
  •       Single Audit Corrective Action Plans


“This business plan demonstrates a new level of transparency and accountability for DHHS,” said Phillips.  “We’re looking ahead with a plan that clearly outlines our priorities for the next year, defines goals, identifies deliverables, and compels us to measure progress as we continue our efforts to effectively manage resources.  We’re here because we believe in what we do and we’re dedicated to our mission.” 


The business plan is available on the DHHS website here.