State Workers

Gov. Inslee's promised Lean push gets preview; details due in August as Results Washington

OlympianJuly 16, 2013 

Eight months after winning election as governor and promising “disruptive” change for state government, Democrat Jay Inslee is about to start delivering on his pledge to bring more “Lean” management to agencies. His predecessor as governor, Chris Gregoire, also used the Lean method pioneered by Toyota car factories and used by Boeing Commercial Airplanes, but Inslee and his GOP election adversary Rob McKenna both pledged to go further. 

Inslee is calling his new approach “Results Washington,” A draft mission statement – linked here – says what the Inslee administration wants: “To build a thriving Washington by fostering the spirit of continuous improvement, enhancing the conditions for job creation, preparing students for the future and valuing our environment, our health and our people.”

Results Washington is still a month or more away from going fully public, but Inslee chief of staff Mary Alice Heuschel outlined a few elements of the plan Tuesday during a seminar on government management and efficiency in Olympia. She indicated the approach would be broader than Gregoire’s Government Management Accountability Program by encompassing all of state government.

The new efficiency push has five goals that might sound familiar: 1. a “world class” education system from preschool through college, 2. a “prosperous economy”; 3. making Washington a national leader in sustainable energy and a clean environment; 4. healthy and safe communities; 5. efficient, effective and accountable government.

Tuesday's event, co-sponsored by the Governor’s Office and the state Auditor’s Office, drew more than 100 state agency leaders to the campus of South Puget Sound Community College. Speakers included state Auditor Troy Kelley, federal-agency reform veteran Shelley Metzenbaum of the Volker Alliance, and Wendy Korthius-Smith, who led Gregoire’s Lean efforts and now is leading Inslee’s successor to that.

Heuschel said they had hoped to get the Results Washington program out rolling in three months, but it has taken six months. The delays were due in part to the extra-long legislative session and threats of a government shutdown that forced her and other Cabinet leaders to plan for the remote possibility no budget would be in place by the start of the new biennium on July 1.

In a campaign interview last fall, Inslee said he would enlist line workers in the Lean improvements, which are meant to identify and eliminate wasteful steps in a process. As an example he said the state has a problem delivering timely permits.

“A lot of what the state does is make decisions,” Inslee said at the time. “We want to find a way to leave less paper sitting on a desk.’’

Each of the five Results Washington goals will be organized under the acronym SMART: as in, Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. Heuschel said the fifth goal of efficiency and accountability would be overarching – like an umbrella – over the first four goals. Heuschel described a “very public process” that will be a bit scary for agencies because the public will see “the good, the bad and the ugly.’’

Heuschel said that after setting the main goals, the next step is to set the targets that agencies will aim to reach. She said there will be three phases and a system of “leading indicators” will be developed to show progress.

The indicators will cut across agency boundaries. Results will made public on a single, easy-to-find web site.

Metzenbaum spoke about the importance of identifying clear targets and avoiding a “gotcha environment” that shamed or penalized agencies that made progress but did not hit targets exactly.

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