State Workers

16 state employees honored for service

OLYMPIA – They sorted out tax disputes in the aftermath of a flood, reduced building costs, straightened up agency finances and eliminated waiting lists for food stamps.

The governor and her Cabinet honored 16 state employees Tuesday with the Governor’s Leadership in Management Award.

“This is the cream of the crop, no doubt,” said Department of Personnel director Eva Santos, noting that nearly 6,000 exempt employees are eligible for the award.

Capt. Darrin Grondel of the Washington State Patrol was credited with a 14 percent drop in fatal collisions involving commercial vehicles on state highways. Under his leadership, the Commercial Vehicle Division audited Washington-based shipping companies whenever one of their vehicles was involved in a fatal collision, the patrol reported.

Grondel said his staff members also deserved credit.

“It’s cliché. I wanted to serve, (to have) the overall ability to help people,” he said. “I want to improve people’s lives … create a safe environment.”

When Hoang Tran took over a south Seattle community service office of the Department of Social and Health Services last fall, more than 50 percent of the applications for services such as food stamps and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families were overdue. Now, 99 percent of the applications are completed on time, the agency reported.

Like Grondel, Tran credited his staff members.

“They’re the ones who know the problems,” he said. “They’re the ones who do all the work.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire congratulated the managers at a luncheon in the Governor’s Mansion a few hours before she signed a two-year budget that she predicted would cut $4.5 billion in state services.

“Sure, it’s tough, but we’ll get through,” she said. “This is your calling. This is the time to show the leadership that is in your heart.”

Adam Wilson: 360-753-1688

About the honorees

Frankie Arteaga, Employment Security Department: By bringing in more partners to a Worksource site, Arteaga reduced facility costs to her agency by $200,000.

Heidi Audette, Department of Veterans Affairs: As a legislative liaison, Audette was involved in passing 47 bills relating to veterans issues over four years.

Russ Brubaker, Department of Revenue: Brubaker was credited with implementing the Streamlined Sales Tax, which is projected to bring in more than $260 million in taxes once lost to online sales.

Gary Condra, Department of Veterans Affairs: Chief Financial Officer Condra managed the construction of a $41 million, environmentally friendly veterans home, saving the agency $150,000 in contract management costs.

Brad Flaherty, Department of Revenue: Flaherty intervened in disputes after the 2007 floods in Lewis County over property classified as farmland, which greatly lowers its tax burden. He wrote an emergency rule to address outdated definitions of the classification.

Capt. Darrin Grondel, Washington State Patrol: Grondel directed safety-compliance audits of all Washington-based shipping companies that had a vehicle involved in a fatal collision. The program reduced fatal collisions with commercial vehicles by 14 percent, the agency reported.

Donna Haley, Department of Corrections: Haley was credited with boosting recruitment efforts for the department as it expands some prisons, and with making support available for staff being laid off during budget reductions.

Kitty Hjelm, Department of Ecology: Hjelm improved the cost-recovery and damage assessments for the oil-spill program, improving collection of fines by 25 percent. The program has brought in $6.4 million, or about 75 percent, of fees levied in oil spills.

Lisa Marsh, Employment Security Department: Marsh aligned tax collections and audits in the agency, reducing the total amount of tax dollars overdue to the state by 21 percent.

Kathy Marshall, Department of Social and Health Services: Marshall led an effort to change the way nursing homes are paid, using the rates to encourage community-based homes to take higher-needs patients and keep Medicaid clients out of higher-cost facilities.

Lynne McGuire, Office of Financial Management: McGuire was the state budget office’s first information technology chief, leading an effort to modernize the agency’s systems.

David Moseley, Department of Transportation: Moseley took over as assistant secretary of Washington State Ferries last year, holding three dozen public meetings, meeting with the public and unions to address concerns about the ferry system’s finances.

Jane Rushford, Department of General Administration: In addition to being the deputy director of the agency supervising outreach and communications, Rushford took over the facilities-management division last year and was involved in creating the DASH shuttle from the Capitol Campus to downtown Olympia.

Stephen Sinclair, Department of Corrections: Sinclair became the superintendent of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla last year and, according to the agency, “broke down communication barriers and won staff support for safety improvements.”

Lois Speelman, Department of Health: Speelman was credited with reducing the number of audit findings against the agency from six in 2005 to two in 2008, avoiding $530,000 in questioned costs.

Hoang Tran, Department of Social and Health Services: Tran took over the Rainier Community Service Office in the fall, reducing the number of overdue applications for services such as food stamps.