Vermont’s economy can grow faster than the costs of living; our state can be measurably more affordable each year for families and businesses; and we can meet our obligations to the most vulnerable. To achieve these outcomes, however, we need more than vision – we need a real strategic plan that sets clear goals and measures results.
There are three numbers that literally keep me up at night: Six, three, and one. For years we saw, on average, six fewer workers in our workforce, three fewer kids in K through 12, and nearly one baby born exposed to opiates – every single day. The fact is, if we do nothing (or stick with a status quo approach), in just eight years there would be just one worker for each child, retiree and Vermonter dependent on state government. If we remove Chittenden County (which the data shows will never reach this tipping point) from that equation, Vermont’s other 13 counties are just 4 years away from this 1:1 dependency ratio. We must reverse these trends—and we can, if we focus our efforts in areas aimed at doing so.
That’s why on my first day in office, I issued an executive order outlining three strategic outcomes (priorities) that guide my Administration in every decision we make. They are to grow the economy, make Vermont more affordable and protect the most vulnerable. These are our guideposts, and every initiative of our administration aims to accomplish at least two out of the three. Key to achieving these priorities is a more efficient government that provides more value for every taxpayer dollar. So, you’ll see “Government Modernization” included as a fourth outcome.
This Administration has committed to rethinking the state’s processes and how we set priorities, developing this strategic plan with measurable breakthrough indicators so we can assess progress toward our goals. The breakthrough indicators, and the current baseline data, can be found on the Dashboard pages.
We asked state employees to provide S.M.A.R.T goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results based, and timebound) to have the most positive impact on these breakthrough indicators. The goals are organized by strategic priority and presented on the Strategic Plan page.
It is important to note, however, that a strategic plan must be a “living” document. Meaning, it must allow the enterprise it guides – in this case, the executive branch of state government – to modify the tactical plan for achieving a goal if circumstances change or there is a better, more efficient path forward. To get the results we need, state government at every level – especially the frontline staff - must constantly be adapting the tactics, programs and processes to stay oriented to the strategic priorities.
In addition to this strategic plan, our PIVOT program (the Program to Improve Vermont Outcomes Together) – which is modeled after Toyota’s successful LEAN techniques – is empowering frontline employees who have ideas to improve service and do things better and faster; so we can increase the capacity of state government to do more with existing resources. I realize this isn’t the flashiest initiative, but it is important work because it helps us modernize state government, so we can get more value out of taxpayer dollars, eliminate red tape and improve citizen service. For example, a team from the Division of Fire Safety created and implemented changes which will bring the processing of 82 percent of applications in 30 days or less, up to processing 95 percent in that same window. Employees in the Department of Tax developed a system to process income tax refunds to Vermonters who file by mail three times faster than the old system. We even LEAN-ed the LEAN training program, improving its capacity so we can have roughly one in three state workers trained by the end of 2020 (one of the goals contained in this plan).
What this all means for Vermonters is a state government focused on very clear priorities and specific indicators, driven by a commitment to continuous improvement – better service, done more efficiently and producing more value for you. This is the disciplined approach that will be necessary to achieve our top strategic priorities of growing the economy, making Vermont more affordable and protecting the most vulnerable.
Thank you for taking the time to better understand our approach. Please send your feedback and ideas for making state government more efficient and effective, using the Contact and Response Form provided.
Phil Scott, Governor