Minnesota: Cutting costs and increasing efficiency through enterprise-wide sustainable practices

In 2016, the Minnesota Department of Administration’s Office of Continuous Improvement led an initiative from the then-Lieutenant Governor to assess and improve how the state manages its internal sustainability reporting and efforts. After some initial fact-finding, the team discovered there were unconnected reporting requirements, a variety of approaches to sustainability activities, and no coordinated effort to understand outcomes or identify opportunities for improvements. In collaboration with the Department of Administration’s newly formed Office of Enterprise Sustainability, the Continuous Improvement team led a statewide project to build a streamlined and effective governance structure with state agencies to use.

Fast forward to today: how, where, and why agencies participate in statewide sustainability activities and governance is clearly documented and understood. Agencies know what they need to do, by when, and where they can get help. This governance structure and the Office of Enterprise Sustainability ensure that all agencies are participating, and:

  • there are enterprise-wide goals and metrics that were developed by the Results-based Accountability team
  • agencies are held accountable for their progress towards goals on a public facing dashboard
  • there is reduced duplication of activities
  • the Office of Enterprise Sustainability serves as the hub for all efforts.  

The 2019 NASCA Institute Case Study and in-person session will explore Minnesota’s enterprise-wide transformation and demonstrate how the team managed initiative fatigue, led culture change components, and developed cross-agency relationships. The case study will also examine the legacy of this program during a gubernatorial transition.

Institute participants will learn how:

  • The project team engaged and included impacted agencies and their employees in developing a governance and collaboration model across departments, how they mapped current efforts, and what benchmarking data was used from other states.
  • The Governor’s Office, in partnership with the Department of Administration’s senior leadership team and Office of Enterprise Sustainability, managed the transition to a new, sustainable governance structure. 


Nebraska: Center of Operational Excellence

Early in his tenure, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts established process improvement as a key strategy to, “create a more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused state government.” To achieve this, state leaders first evaluated state models from around the country to help introduce more sustainable change that would help grow Nebraska. This led to the launch of a Center of Operational Excellence within the Department of Administrative Services. COE established a new operating model, which included the creation of 30 process improvement coordinators embedded in agencies, with dual-reporting structures to the cabinet secretaries and the Director of the Center.  As part of their implementation, the Center has developed and executed a rigorous training and certification program and integrated process improvement into the state’s onboarding process.  

Early on the team encountered challenges getting cabinet secretaries on board, generating buy-in at all levels, addressing people’s concerns about losing their job, navigating competing priorities (such as flooding across the state), and scaling up their efforts. Now this work has become an integral part of the state’s efforts to prepare for the silver tsunami by capturing current processes and gaining efficiencies as state workers retire.  Already, the Office has demonstrated significant successes. The Center currently has over 12,000 trained employees, over 245 completed projects, over 290,000 of verifiable hours saved, and significant impact to the Nebraska Citizen including impacting water permits, licensing process, administrative tasks, and prison protocol (among other important elements)

NASCA will explore the Center for Operational Excellence in an Institute case study and in-person session. Participants will grow their understanding of the high level of complexity involved in this case study, including how Nebraska worked through structural and personnel changes.  Attendees will engage in robust discussion with peers on culture change, internal resistance from key stakeholders, competing priorities, political pressures, developing a sustainable model and analyzing costs and benefits.  

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