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Improving Agency Operations

By Governor Pete Ricketts

August 2, 2016

 

The Governor’s official photo is available here.

 

Improving management practices in state agencies doesn’t always grab headlines, but it is critical to ensuring that state government spends your taxpayer dollars wisely and provides better customer service for Nebraskans like you. 

 

In past columns, I have shared with you about how our agencies have been improving their operations and making state government more customer-focused.  For example, our Chief Information Officer has been saving taxpayers money by reducing purchases of duplicative software licenses.  The Nebraska Department of Roads recently launched new roads standards which will help your hard-earned taxpayer dollars stretch further.  Additionally, the Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles and the Nebraska Cattlemen teamed up this spring to launch a new farm vehicle designation, which is cutting red tape for our agribusinesses and farm and ranch families.

 

The Nebraska Department of Economic Development is another state agency which has been seeking to improve its operations and customer service.  They are an important state agency because of their focus on growing Nebraska through business recruitment and job creation.  In January, Courtney Dentlinger of Norfolk started as the new DED Director, and since then she’s been working with her team to identify areas where we can adopt new management practices to improve the agency’s operations.  

 

During the same time period, she has also been working with three audit teams, at both the state and federal level, who have been reviewing her operations.  These audit processes have been very informative in developing initiatives, which will help instill better business practices in the agency.

 

This week, Courtney and I unveiled these new management practices informed by these audits and her team’s input.  These management practices include three initiatives: 1) The department will establish a new finance and operations division within the agency to house their financial, budgeting, accounting, and operations functions.  They will also hire a Chief Financial Officer to lead this new division, which will help enhance the agency’s policies, protocols, and internal controls.  2) The department will bolster their legal team by hiring an additional lawyer, which will help to clear a log jam of contracts with important partners and improve customer service.  3) The department will create a new internal auditor role to ensure the agency is continually in compliance with any policies and regulations.  The agency is frequently audited, and has faced challenges in providing timely responses to their partners in auditing functions. 

 

In addition to the initiatives outlined above, DED and the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) have announced a partnership, which will transfer accounting and human resource functions previously performed within DED to DAS.  As a part of this partnership, DED will transfer existing personnel, who will be housed, managed, and trained by DAS to perform these duties.  This move simply realigns existing positions, and does not add additional personnel.  Providing central operations services like these has the potential to streamline delivery, and reduce costs for taxpayers.  DAS is already providing central accounting and human resources support for a couple of state agencies, and is preparing to sign agreements with additional agencies.

 

Initiatives and agency partnerships like these are the building blocks that are helping us run state government more like a business.  As we continue to work to make state agencies more customer-focused and more efficient and effective, I will continue to share stories with you.  If you have feedback on your experience with state government, I hope you will share it with my office by calling 402-471-2244 or by emailing pete.ricketts@nebraska.gov.

 

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