Lt. Governor Smith today announced the Better Government Award winners – highlighting cost savings, efficiencies, and improved customer service for Minnesotans
ST. PAUL, MN – Lt. Governor Tina Smith today honored state employees who have made state government more efficient, accountable, and effective for the people of Minnesota. A record 63 reform initiatives were nominated for Better Government Awards this year by teams from almost every state agency. Since 2010, the Governor’s Better Government Awards have annually celebrated individual and organizational accomplishments that have increased the efficiency and effectiveness of state government.
“Our administration is committed to delivering accountable, effective, efficient government that meets the needs of Minnesotans,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “The 2017 Better Government Award winners are helping make government more responsive, while saving time and money. We are committed to building on this progress, and creating a culture of continuous improvement across state government.”
“Today’s awards highlight the commitment of state employees in delivering efficient and effective public services to Minnesotans,” said Administration Commissioner Matt Massman. “When provided the tools and opportunity, as demonstrated by today’s winners, our employees will do what it takes to serve our veterans, make state government more inclusive, and make our roads safer.”
This year, winners were picked from three categories: Great Customer Service, Great Place to Work, and Great Results. Descriptions of the winning reforms are below.
Great Customer Service
The Dayton-Smith Administration has made improving the customer service provided by state government a priority over the past six years. They have led efforts to make government documents and forms easier to understand, reduce permitting times, and eliminate unnecessary and outdated statutes.
Enhancing the Lives of Veterans Home Residents. Research shows that approximately 50 percent of long-term care facility residents do not regularly have visitors, while 68 percent sit in silence for extended periods of time. To improve the quality of life enjoyed by residents, the Minnesota Veterans Home – Luverne implemented a Music and Memory program to engage residents with memory loss with playlists customized to their particular interests and memories. The facility also provides dual headphones that allow residents to listen together, making it a group activity. Veterans participating in the Music and Memory program have exhibited reduced agitation and anxiety and improved mood, memory, and socialization. In 2016, the Luverne Veterans Home earned 4.87 out of 5.00 on its annual customer satisfaction survey.
Great Place to Work
Minnesota state government is expected to experience approximately 1,000 retirements a year over the next decade, as Baby Boomers exit the workforce. This had made employee recruitment and retention a top priority across state government.
Inclusion Campaign at Department of Revenue. Creating an inclusive, welcoming workplace culture is critical to attracting and retaining the next generation of public servants. Through its “I am Revenue” campaign, the Minnesota Department of Revenue has offered inclusivity training to 381 employees. As part of the campaign, the agency also has created a poster campaign to help employees learn about one another. The department believes the campaign has helped create an environment where everyone feels a shared accountability for an inclusive workplace.
Promoting State Employment Opportunities. With a wave retirements expected across state government, Minnesota Management and Budget partnered with MAPE, the Middle Management Association, and AFSCME to lead an enterprise-wide effort to promote employment opportunities in state government in a diverse range of communities. In the past year, state government recruiters have used large events, including the Minnesota State Fair, the People of Color Job Fair, and the first ever State of Minnesota Career Fair to share employment opportunities with women, veterans, people of color, and other historically underrepresented groups in state government. As a result of these efforts, state government connected with over 4,000 people interested in becoming public servants.
Governor Dayton and Lt. Governor Smith are committed to delivering great results by increasing accountability, transparency, and efficiency across state government. Their administration is delivering commonsense reforms that save time and money for hardworking taxpayers.
Using Drones to Inspect Critical Infrastructure. The Minnesota Department of Transportation inspects pipes and culverts across the state for failures that could cause major damage to roads. Historically, the inspection process has been a time and personnel intensive process, with agency employees entering culverts to inspect them. To reduce costs and save time, the department has started using a remote control inspection drone built with off-the-shelf parts to inspect pipes and culverts. The drone already has saved thousands of dollars, with an inspection of a culvert on Highway 26 revealing that only limited repairs, rather than full replacement, were needed. It also completed inspections of culverts around Highway 52, revealing major culvert failures that could not be seen using external visual inspection.