Clark State hosts program aimed at cutting government waste

City and county agencies across Ohio are participating in a state-sponsored program to make local governments more efficient, an effort organizers said has already saved taxpayers about $150 million annually.

The LeanOhio boot camp came to Clark State Community College in Springfield for the first time this week. The week-long training program for public-sector employees aimed to make government simpler, faster, better and less costly by applying popular manufacturing practices.

Lean strategies seek to eliminate waste in the work process, said Brandi Crowley with the LeanOhio office.

“Which typically results in 50 percent decrease in time spent,” she said. “That means faster services, more work completed and as a result of that, it makes the customers happy and we save tax dollars that way.”

Since 2011, the state has conducted nearly 200 process-improvement projects using the manufacturing tools and strategies commonly known as Lean Six Sigma. On top of the $150 million saved, lean strategies reduced wait time for services by an average of nearly 70 percent, according to LeanOhio.

Any area of government, from transportation authorities to law enforcement can apply the strategies to increase performance, Crowley said.

Lean practices also work with smaller, local governments, said William Lutz of the city of Piqua Development Office. Lutz attended a one of the state’s training programs in early June and said he has already implemented lean strategies to improve his office’s work flow, which he said saved time for his staff and residents.

“Smaller communities would benefit from this training,” Lutz said. “I wish more local government workers would go through (the training). It’s probably the best week-long training I’ve been to in my work career.”

The Piqua Development Office used lean strategies and tools to evaluate and change their applications for permits, licenses and other forms, Lutz said. He realized their applications weren’t appropriately written and were too difficult to understand, often causing residents to not fill them out properly. That cost his office more time and resources to process applications.

“Now we do it right the first time and can provide better services from the get-go,” he said.

Local government workers can apply for a state scholarship to attend the LeanOhio workshops. The state budget includes $4.6 million in fiscal year 2014 and $5.9 million in 2015 for the Local Government Innovation Fund. The fund provides necessary training, funding and support needed to learn and apply Lean Six Sigma strategies to innovate, provide better service and save taxpayer money.

Clark State hosted its first LeanOhio boot camp that ended Tuesday. Five workers from the Greene County Combined Health District and one from the Logan County Health District attended with funding from the Local Government Innovation Fund.

No one from Clark or Champaign counties attended the sessions at Clark State this week. But the classes are something Springfield Mayor Warren Copeland said he would consider for city employees. The city is continually working to keep up with new ways to improve efficiency, he said.

Last year, the Greene County health district implemented lean practices to its vehicle usage program and it cut costs in the program by $25,000, said Don Brannen, a district epidemiologist.

Not only do the lean practices save taxpayers’ dollars, he said, but improve the services residents receive.

“At a less cost as well — so people should see better service for less cost and more efficiency,” Brannen said.

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