Top management at the Connecticut Department of Revenue Services (DRS) agreed that an upgrade to department procedures using 21st Century "lean" techniques would provide better service to the state’s taxpayers.
The agency turned to BlumShapiro, widely known for its expertise in assisting government agencies and private firms to solve workplace efficiency issues and establish lean procedures. BlumShapiro immediately joined forces with a team of DRS employees to review the department's daily operations and make recommendations to increase efficiency and quality of services.
The team first met with department management to evaluate existing procedures and determine future goals. Among the areas identified for improvement was the paper registration process which took 15 to 20 days to complete for each applicant. In addition, online transactions took an average of 10 to 13 days to complete.
The team began its process by observing department staff in their daily routines. In a type of "design/build" format, the team, with support from BlumShapiro, made suggestions as inefficiencies became apparent, and those that could be were addressed immediately. The team described some of the ongoing operations as "chaotic" with staff, at times, working on numerous projects simultaneously without finishing any of them in a timely manner.
The team initiated compartmentalization within the existing administrative structure, setting aside specific times for computer work, phone calls and customer service. By instituting time-specific job functions, the agency was able to observe an instantaneous improvement in completion times.
As the study progressed, team members verbalized the changes with department staff, in addition to writing and videotaping a script showing how the department would be structured administratively in the future. Therefore, department staff had access to verbal, written and visual presentations on the transition to a lean operation.
The results were dramatic. The completion time for paper registrations dropped from 15-20 days to a one to two day turnaround. The online application process that once required ten to 13 days to complete was shortened to a two to five day turnaround.
In addition, the department's backlog of suspended return applications was significantly reduced by instituting a tighter deadline for response from taxpayers who had not supplied complete information for their applications.
The entire review process from onset to completion took only five days. Commissioner Kevin Sullivan was very pleased with the results, so much so that he authorized a news release to alert the public of DRS's streamlined functions. BlumShapiro is proud to have had the opportunity to contribute and be a part of making important changes in state government.
The DRS is now a shining example of what can be accomplished with an appropriate application of private sector "lean" approaches to government agencies.