Today, 78 state employees from 15 state agencies were recognized for outstanding achievements that have reformed state government and saved taxpayer dollars. In the Governor's ongoing effort to build a Better Government for a Better Minnesota, state agencies have worked hard finding innovative ways to deliver better services to Minnesotans while eliminating wasteful spending, improving efficiencies, and strengthening measures of accountability.
"Reforming government requires creative thinking and a steady resolve to change the way the state conducts its business," said Governor Dayton. "The reform efforts we recognized today are just a few extraordinary examples, among many, of how this administration is building a better government for the people of Minnesota. I thank the employees for their tremendous efforts to improve the quality of services provided to Minnesotans."
The Governor's Continuous Improvement Awards celebrate individual and organizational achievements that have increased the productivity and efficiency of state government services, while improving the delivery and responsiveness of customer service. Twenty-eight teams from across the administration were nominated for this year's awards, with six receiving recognition at today's award ceremony for their extraordinary achievements.
Ten Percent Reduction in Workplace Injuries
Cross Agency Team Led by the Department of Administration
In 2012, the Minnesota Department of Administration's Risk Management team developed a statewide injury reduction initiative known as MnSAFE. This initiative sought to better understand the causes of state employee workplace injuries, develop better safety practices, and educate state employees. This effort has successfully reduced state employee injuries by 10 percent in 2013, saving Minnesota taxpayers an estimated $2.8 million.
Before the MnSAFE program was implemented, Minnesota state employees reported more than 1,800 work-related injuries every year. The impact of these injuries was immense -- costing Minnesota more than $23 million in direct losses and between $48.3 million and $126.5 million in indirect losses (such as lost productivity, administrative time, and retraining). Even more troubling, these claims costs increased 40 percent from 2006 to 2011.
Today, because of the MnSAFE initiative, the State of Minnesota is progressing towards the goal of reducing injuries by 25 percent in three years. In fact, state employees suffered 341 fewer injuries last year than in 2011 -- marking a ten percent reduction in workplace injuries.
Twenty Two Percent Reduction in Return Mail
Minnesota Department of Revenue
In 2013, the Department of Revenue began its first continuous improvement project: streamlining its letter printing and mail processing systems. Reforms implemented this year have already reduced return mail to the agency by more than 22 percent. By streamlining the entire letter printing and mail processing systems, the Department expects to save over $630,000 annually.
Before these improvements were made, the Department of Revenue's mailing process was decentralized, inconsistent, and expensive. Working with Lean facilitators from the Department of Administration, the Department of Revenue set the ambitious goals of reducing return mail by 50 percent and resending returned mail to recipients within three business days.
By implementing reforms like consolidated printing operations, standardized letter formats and stationary and automated mailing procedures, the Department is well on its way to achieving those goals. These improvements are reducing waste at the Department of Revenue, saving time, and improving the agency's responsiveness to the public.
Improving Pharmaceutical Safety for Patients by 40 Percent
Minnesota Department of Human Services
This year, the Department of Human Services streamlined and improved an old and outdated system for filling prescriptions at state hospitals and medical facilities. The Department improved their electronic prescription drug system by making it simpler to use for small state medical facilities and by eliminating excessive, time-consuming paperwork.
Since the Department implemented these new reforms, transcription errors have decreased while awareness of drug interactions and allergies has increased. Overall, patient safety has improved 40 percent, and nurses are filling out far less paperwork. In fact, the time it takes for nurses to fill out prescription paperwork has been reduced from 3 hours to just 15 minutes.
Mobile App and Online Licensing for Fishing
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Every year, more than 1.1 million fishing licenses are purchased in Minnesota. In 2013, the Department of Natural Resources launched two services to help anglers get licenses more easily. In June the agency launched a new service that allows anglers to buy fishing licenses online. And instead of waiting for a paper license in the mail, Minnesotans get a text message confirmation of their purchase.
The Department of Natural Resources also launched a new mobile version of its popular LakeFinder website. The site provides Minnesota anglers useful information like lake depth, what kind of fish the lake contains, and special fishing regulations that may be in effect. And since January 2013, the app has been used more than 87,000 times.
To make this service a reality, the Department of Natural Resources worked closely with the Pollution Control Agency, the Department of Health, and the University of Minnesota.
Increasing Restitution to Crime Victims by 130 Percent
Minnesota Department of Corrections
Incarcerated inmates owe Minnesota crime victims more than $25 million in restitution and court-ordered fines. However, only a small fraction has been repaid. Historically, the Department of Corrections only collects about $560,000 annually from inmate wages to help pay these obligations each year.
To increase payments to victims of crime, the Department of Corrections instituted a ten percent assessment on money coming in and out of inmate accounts in April 2013. The Department also placed a five percent surcharge on non-health and hygiene items that inmates may purchase, and decreased the amount an inmate could save for release.
As a result, payments to crime victims have increased by 130 percent and court fine payments have increased by 400 percent. Over time, these reforms will help Minnesotans victimized by crime get the compensation they deserve.
Saving $14 million by Improving Access to Public Health Information
Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota collects data on a variety of important health and environment measures. However, until recently some of that data was not much use to anyone. Previously, data collected by state agencies was spread across many different state webpages making it difficult to find. The data was frequently posted in formats that made it difficult for the public to understand and for researchers to use.
In 2011, the Department of Health launched a one-stop shop for health and environment data on their website. This data portal is making easier for both researchers and the public to access useful information. The portal integrates data on 18 topics such as asthma, poverty, obesity, and health insurance by placing it all in one location. This service is helping inform citizens, while also assisting researchers and policymakers. The Department of Health estimates this new tool will save a projected $14 million by reducing requests for information.