Kayla Leslie

2019-2020 Top Ten Priorities of State Chief Administrators

  • 24 May 2019
  • Author: Sarah Razor
  • Number of views: 528
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2019-2020 Top Ten Priorities of State Chief Administrators

NASCA conducts a survey of State Chief Administrators to identify and prioritize the policy and administrative priorities facing state government operations. The top ten priorities are identified and used as input for all NASCAs programs, planning for conference sessions, research and publications.

State Chief Administrators report their number one priority included driving change and innovation up from third in the previous year. This small but noticeable change from last year’s survey reflects the growing focus on operational excellence and transformation. The state CAO is viewed as the person able to provide an enterprise view of culture, digital modernization, and facilitate effective management.  

The members of NASCA reflect the cabinet level officials responsible for the operations of government, often including agencies such as facilities, purchasing, finance, IT, and HR. To increase the robustness and strategic alignment across government operations, NASCA reviewed peer state associations to inform the final top ten and subcomponents within each broad priority. Many of the final top ten items were from components of peer association’s Top Ten List. NASCA also conducted a private sector survey of their perception working with various states of trending priorities in state government operations.

 

Job One: Reimagine Today's State Government Workforce

  • 25 March 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 3578
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Job One: Reimagine Today's State Government Workforce

State governments face growing challenges attracting, building and retaining critically important talent and workforce skills. New research from NASCA in collaboration with Accenture and NEOGOV with assistance from the National Association of State Personnel Executives (NASPE) suggests that as the public and private sectors battle for talent, government is falling too far behind in preparing for the workforce of the future.

Job One for states is to start rethinking their workforce. This report provides a roadmap and clear recommendations for state leaders, governors, and legislators as well as highlights leading state examples.  

Building An Enduring Structure: Minnesota's Office of Enterprise Sustainability

  • 19 September 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 2
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Building An Enduring Structure: Minnesota's Office of Enterprise Sustainability

In late 2015, then-Minnesota Lieutenant Governor Tina Smith convened a group of senior state officials to discuss climate change. Smith, who was appointed to the U.S. Senate by Governor Mark Dayton in 2018, had just returned from a meeting with Minnesota’s delegation to the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, and she wanted to explore what the State of Minnesota could do. The group agreed that it would be infeasible to pass climate change legislation in the Republican-controlled legislature, so Smith encouraged the officials to make state government more sustainable. “The words she used,” recalled Erin Campbell, Assistant Commissioner in the Department of Administration (Admin), “were, ‘Let’s get our house in order. Let’s start there. And then let’s show people how we can do this work. Let’s be an example.’”1 Smith elaborated, “I just felt so strongly that the State of Minnesota, as one of the largest employers in the state, had a real obligation not only to talk about how state government policy  as going to prescribe how other organizations should work but that we really needed to clean up our own act.”2

It was not immediately clear how to proceed. There had been numerous past sustainability efforts that had created a confusing landscape, and some agencies were wary of taking on additional responsibilities. However, agency leaders knew that Smith’s stated desire to take action on sustainability was not empty talk. She expected results. Explained Cathy Beil, a Senior Continuous Improvement Consultant in the Minnesota Office of Continuous Improvement (MNCI): “When we said, ‘This is a project that she wants done,’ that helped everybody sit up and listen.”3

As Admin officials began crafting an enterprise sustainability strategy, they had high-level backing but faced challenging questions. How could they foster cross-agency collaboration and align stakeholders around a common vision? How should they create systems, structures, and processes to drive lasting change? How should they measure impact? How should they navigate a political climate that appeared inhospitable to climate-change-related reform? Finally, how would Admin position a sustainability initiative to succeed and drive enterprise-wide change and good government over the long term?

Pursuing A Vision: Nebraska's Center of Operational Excellence

  • 19 September 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 5
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Pursuing A Vision: Nebraska's Center of Operational Excellence

Early one morning in August 2019, eight employees from Nebraska’s Department of Environmental Quality gathered in a small conference room for a focused meeting. They were surrounded by white boards containing swim lanes detailing each employee’s workflow, metrics reflecting their progress, and finish lines where they could affix post-it notes celebrating progress.1 The staff members, many of whom were sipping their morning coffee, updated the othersabout their priorities for the day and identified tasks where they might need help. Then, after sharing a few jokes, they put their hands together in a circle and raised them together as they started their day.2

Just a few years earlier, structured daily planning meetings like these rarely occurred in Nebraska state government, but thanks to a process improvement initiative launched by Governor Pete Ricketts upon taking office in 2015, they have become standard for thousands of employees across the enterprise.3 “I’m a former Chief Operating Officer, so I dig deep down about all of this stuff,” said Ricketts, previously the Chief Operating Officer at TD Ameritrade. “We should always be thinking about how we can serve the customer better and do it in innovative ways that help us control our costs.”4

While Ricketts’ passion for process improvement was a valuable catalyst for the initiative, it did not guarantee the program’s success. Rather, he and his team had to grapple with—and continue to confront—difficult questions. How should they staff the effort? Where should it be positioned in the enterprise? How should they build cross-agency support? What did they need to do to mitigate potential political challenges and mobilize stakeholders around a common vision? How should they measure progress? How should they keep a focus on process improvement as a long-term priority for the state in the midst of urgent demands, such as natural disasters? What could they do toposition the initiative for long-term success?

NASCA Case Studies

  • 19 September 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 597
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NASCA Case Studies

View all case studies from the NASCA Institute on Management and Leadership dating back to 2012. 

State Chief Administrator's Guidebook on Transitions

  • 22 April 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 321
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State Chief Administrator's Guidebook on Transitions

On behalf of NASCA, we are pleased to present The New State Chief Administrators Guidebook in partnership with Sid Johnson, former Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services for the State of Georgia and faculty at the Carl Vinson School Institute of Government at the University of Georgia.

NASCA partnered with past chief administrators for advice and tactics for new public sector executives. While appointments take place all year long, a surge of new state
chief administrator and senior staff accepted the new role post the 2018 election in which thirty-six governors were recently elected or started second terms. In preparation, a NASCA Transition Taskforce led by former state chief administrators, Bob Blair, Director of the Department of Administrative Services in the State of Ohio and Bob Oglesby, Commissioner of General Services in the State of Tennessee, proposed a “Boot Camp” component for new government executives, as well as other resources to help in their transition.

This publication builds on multiple NASCA publications and resources and serves as a guidebook for the in-person Boot Camp curriculum at the 2019 Spring Conference. Additional materials are also available of the NASCA’s Transition webpage. We hope this publication provides useful insights for not only chief administrators but government managers and stakeholders.

The Art of Leading a State Agency

  • 22 April 2019
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 321
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The Art of Leading a State Agency

On behalf of NASCA, we are pleased to present The Art of Leading a State Government Agency by Paul Campbell, former Director of the Department of Central Management Services for the State of Illinois and ex-officio Executive Committee and Corporate Council Co-Chair of NASCA.

While appointments take place all year long, a surge of new state chief administrator and senior staff accepted the new role post the 2018 election in which thirty-six governors were recently elected or started second terms. In preparation, a NASCA Transition Taskforce led by former state chief administrators, Bob Blair, Director of the Department of Administrative Services in the State of Ohio and Bob Oglesby, Commissioner of General Services in the State of Tennessee, proposed a “Boot Camp” component for new government executives, as well as other resources to help in their transition.

This publication builds on multiple NASCA resources and the Boot Camp curriculum provided in person at the 2019 Spring Conference. Additional resources are also available on the NASCA’s Transition webpage. We hope this publication provides useful insights for not only chief administrators but government managers and stakeholders.

State Chief Administrator's Survey

  • 16 November 2018
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 660
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State Chief Administrator's Survey

The responsibilities of a State Chief Administrator (SCA) are numerous and varied –managing critical state functions, providing services and support to other agencies, navigating uncertain and challenging political environments, and competing with the private sector for talent. To meet these responsibilities, SCAs must develop and execute strategies that push their agencies to perform better, seek new and innovative methods and tools to meet their goals, and develop a culture that attracts and retains high-caliber talent. In order to help SCAs meet these challenges, the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) and McKinsey & Company partnered to survey and report on key issues affecting today’s SCAs. The survey gathered information on SCAs’ agency responsibilities, changes to funding, allocation of time, strategy development, priorities, and the challenges they face. The survey probed into procurement, digitization and automation, areas of interest to many SCAs.

Relentlessly Engaged: The State of Michigan's Employee Survey and The Office of Performance and Transformation

  • 12 September 2018
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 676
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Relentlessly Engaged: The State of Michigan's Employee Survey and The Office of Performance and Transformation

On January 1, 2011, Rick Snyder was inaugurated as Governor of Michigan amid one of the starkest economic periods in state history. From 2000 to 2009, incomes in the state plummeted from being the 18th-highest in the country to 38th place, a decline that only a few states had experienced since the Great Depression. What’s more, in 2009, Michigan became the first state in 25 years to eclipse 15 percent unemployment. Finally, numerous companies and municipalities (including General Motors and Detroit) had declared or were on the brink of bankruptcy. For the Michigan economy, the 2000s were a “lost decade.”

Michigan’s economic woes had a pernicious impact on state employees. The loss of revenue resulted in the budget becoming “structurally broken,” forcing the state to implement “early outs” and furloughs and eliminate training. Thus, when Snyder declared that “The reinvention of Michigan must not leave anyone behind,” he was referring to not only the hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who had lost jobs but also the tens of thousands of state employees serving them.

The Perfect Storm: The State of Kansas Moves Its HR and Finance Systems to the Cloud

  • 12 September 2018
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 580
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The Perfect Storm: The State of Kansas Moves Its HR and Finance Systems to the Cloud

In 2015, the State of Kansas was scheduled to perform what was supposed to be a routine upgrade to the software that supported its accounting system. However, as the deadline approached, officials realized that the transition would be anything but ordinary. Instead, they recognized a set of challenges that created what Sarah Gigous, the Director of the Office of Systems Management in the Department of Administration (DOA), later described as “the perfect storm.” To begin with, they were struggling to recruit technical staff, resulting in the costly practice of retaining an on-site consultant. In addition, they were wrestling with how to replace aging infrastructure that supported the system, a thorny issue because the state’s Chief Information Technology Officer (CITO) was contemplating IT consolidations and did not want departments building costly new systems. Finally, DOA was operating in a constrained fiscal environment, meaning that they could not spend their way out of the problem. These difficulties came to a head when the CITO informed Jim Clark, then the Secretary of Administration, that “they just couldn’t provide us with the support we needed.” “Everything was happening at the same time,” Gigous said, “and we thought, ‘We’ve got to look outside the box and [see] what can we do?’”

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