Posted by: Knightbird | September 3, 2011

Update on Alaska’s Division of Public Assistance

I blogged in 2010 about the State of Alaska’s Division of Public Assistance adoption and use of lean management principles. Then I heard that the Child Care and Development Fund were also adopting process management tools. I was curious, but there was very little information being disseminated by the state. This surprised me. If a lean implementation is successful in an organization, I believe it needs to be discussed and the use spread to others. I have not heard of spread happening yet. In 2007 I approached DHSS Commissioner Karleen Jackson too advocate for adoption of lean government. I followed up in 2008 when Bill Hogan replaced Karleen. In 2010, I pestered Acting Commissioner Bill Streur. So needless to say, I was pleased when I heard that DPA was implementing Lean. I don’t believe I had any influence on their adoption of Lean. It sounds like DPA employee Mary Riggen came across Lean at a conference and brought it back to Alaska. This was reported in their e-newsletter in the summer of 2010. (

Information started to spread through DHSS internal staff communications. DPA publishes an e-news and an article showed up in the spring of 2010 (  From what I am reading, it appears that DPA staff readily embraced the adoption of lean. An e-news update was given in the fall of 2010 ( and it now appears that the information is now making it to DHSS newsletters. ( This newsletter reports the following metrics:

For new applications

Expedite Food Stamps 4.8% faster
Regular Food Stamps 8.1% faster
Temporary Assistance 17.6% faster
Medicaid 14.9% faster
Adult Public Assistance 11.7% faster

Ongoing benefit issuance

Food Stamps 3.1% faster
Temporary Assistance 3.7% faster
Medicaid 2.1% faster
Adult Public Assistance 4% faster

Now, I can’t find any evidence that Governor Parnell is even aware of this bright and shining Division in Alaska. It has been 4 years since I approached Commissioner Jackson. Imagine where we would be today if she had exhibited any curiosity about Lean. Or, what if the Governor wasn’t a politician and had some actual executive experience. I can only dream and thank DPA for their leadership within Alaska.

I did find a 77 page report that had been prepared by DPA’s lean consultant. I will blog in the future about the report when I have had a chance to review it. ( All I can say for now is that a 77 page report out is, in my mind, waste. A simple A-3 and the recording of standard work should be adequate to record a Kaizen.

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