Top-to-bottom audit – and creativity – help state save millions

Top-to-bottom audit – and creativity – help state save millions

The Challenge

The primary responsibility of the governor is to manage the public’s resources wisely. This is a challenge even in the best of times, but in the face of a serious budget shortfall, only the most innovative thinking will lead to a state government that is not only more efficient but more accessible to the citizens.

Shortly after her election in 2002, Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius made good on her campaign promise to conduct a top to bottom performance review of state government. She assembled more than 60 volunteers – from business leaders to citizens – to come up with suggestions for streamlining state government and making it more accountable to its people. The Governor and her transition team turned to TeamTech for help in managing the process and in assuring a successful outcome for participants and the citizens of Kansas

The Solutions

These first Budget Efficiency Savings Teams (BEST) identified potential dollar savings by conducting a top to bottom performance review of state government. More than just an audit, the BEST teams were also charged with coming up with innovative solutions and identifying new ways of doing state business. TeamTech was called on to design a process and establish a plan and framework for identifying solutions. TeamTech worked with private industry, citizens and policymakers to identify key values for improved decision making. Participants agreed that in order to bring about effective change, decisions on the future direction of state government must meet the following criteria:

  • Data-driven
  • Customer focused
  • Continuous improvement
  • Cross-agency perspective
  • Enterprise-wide thinking
  • Decentralized decision-making with accountability
  • Centralized accessible information

In addition to working directly with the Best Teams, TeamTech also designed a process to gather input from the public. In a matter of eight weeks (mid-November of 2002 to mid-January 2003) these five initial public BEST Teams received over 2000 e-mails, faxes and phone communication from Kansans about ways the state could improve efficiency.

The Payoff

This initial BEST process as led and facilitated by TeamTech produced cost and operating efficiencies by:

  1. Identifying dollar savings through streamlining and removing redundancies: These initial five BEST Teams identified $60 million in potential savings. Governor Sebelius used these savings ideas in her state fiscal year (FY) 2004 Budget presented to the Kansas Legislature. One year later those dollars had been saved.
  2. Institutionalizing dollar savings by creating a management culture that encourages collaboration and resources sharing: The work of these initial BEST Teams spurred a more comprehensive internal process. We know that change from the inside out is the only effective way to sustain systemic change. TeamTech continues to facilitate dozens of internal cross-government BEST Teams charged with streamlining and finding savings. Thanks to cross-government purchasing efforts, nearly $27 million in purchased goods and services were realized in FY2005. The County/State Offender Population Prescription Drug Team has realized over $2.4 million in recurring annual savings for both county and state government (both FY05 and FY06).

Governor Sebelius and other state agency leaders consider the first phase efforts of BEST a success.

“Oftentimes, people in organizations have good ideas, but institutional barriers prevent them from being heard. At TeamTech our role is to establish venues in which people at all levels can share ideas and be heard.”