Continuous Improvement in the San Francisco Region


Agency: Department of Health and Human Services

Title: Continuous Improvement in the San Francisco Region

Background Information

Creative Procurement: Region IX's procurement office has long been at the forefront of developing new approaches to the procurement process. From introducing the first automated small purchasing system in the Department to expanding the use of credit cards, the region has always been willing to introduce improvement into the process. Most recently, Region IX has undertaken to support the procurement needs of the San Francisco CASU and several other CASUs across the nation. These procurement improvements have resulted in significant savings to the users of services and to the administrative overhead of participating agencies. For example, a mail services contract in the San Francisco area saves over $50,000 in postage costs alone. Even more remarkable has been the ability for the service to be embraced by the city of San Jose--the very first example of a local government entering into a cost savings agreement with a federal government agency. The improvement in the procurement support has prompted CASU agencies as far away as Chicago and St. Louis to request the Region's services. The expense of the Region's services are less than one half what other agencies charge, yet the service is judged much better by the serviced agencies.

In-House Training Expertise: In 1989, Region IX's RASC undertook a" journey towards quality" aimed at full employee involvement and improved customer service. As the process evolved, it was clear that training and consultation were a major part of the process and that an in-house training capability might be an excellent and cost-effective approach to meeting internal needs. By late 1993, a cadre of 12 professional had evolved; the cadre's role expanded to encompass all of the Department's operating divisions and staff offices. To date, the cadre has trained over 500 managers and employees in many aspects of the TQM process. Clients covered include the Indian Health Service both regionally and centrally, the Administration on Children and Families, Social Security Administration, Health Care Financing Administration and the Office of the Inspector General. A conservative estimate of the cost savings to the Department of this in-house capability is over $75,000 in consultation fees. Additionally, training cadre staff have been requested to provide facilitation assistance in getting several of these components started on their quality journey. Feedback from all customers is universally excellent.

Doing More with Less: The Western Regional Division of Cost Allocation (DCA) office was formed by consolidating and transferring the workload from three regions to a single office located in San Francisco. This office has been especially successful in achieving excellent results with reduced resources. During the last three years, full-time staffing of the Western Regional office was reduced by more than 30 percent, yet the office has continued to achieve significant cost savings. For example, in FY 94 to date, the Western Regional office has saved over $100 million in reduced indirect costs to Federal programs and realized cash refunds of more than $10 million for excess claims.

In addition to the significant cast savings, DCA has also attained a high degree of customer satisfaction from many of these same customers. More than 468 grantees were surveyed with a 68 percent response rate. A summary of the results of the responses found that 97 percent of the respondees were pleased with the services received. For an agency whose primary goal is to limit the grantees indirect costs, these results are astounding. This survey has been helpful to DCA in understanding what customers think about the process and led the region to initiate a quarterly newsletter dealing with issues of common concern.

Main NPR Category: Employee Empowerment, Customer Service

Related NPR Categories: Cutting Red Tape

Contact Person: Robert Chang

Contact Phone: (415) 556-0522

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