NASCA Research

Ready to Launch: The State of Colorado Employee Wellness Program

  • 4 October 2016
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 275
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Ready to Launch: The State of Colorado Employee Wellness Program

In January 2013, Nate Sassano began a new role as the Statewide Wellness Coordinator for the State of Colorado, and he immediately faced a challenge: his supervisors in the Colorado Department of Personnel and Administration (DPA) wanted him to create a new employee wellness program by July 1, 2013. Sassano had known that he would be responsible for crafting the initiative, but the rapid timetable surprised him. “My first thought,” Sassano later recalled, “was, ‘you didn’t tell me that in the interview, but we’ll get it done.’”1 Thus, Sassano quickly faced pressing questions. How should he setup and structure a program that would require collaboration among a wide array of State agencies and private sector stakeholders? How would he and DPA rollout the program in just half a year, and what should they prioritize? Once the program was launched, how would they scale it?

A Cabinet-level agency, DPA “provides centralized human resources, information, tools, resources and materials needed for the State of Colorado to function.” During the 2013- 2014 fiscal year, the agency had a $160 million budget, including a $60.2 million allocation for the Division o f Human Resources. This is the unit in which Sassano and the wellness program were based.

The Promise of Covergence: Transforming Health Care Delivery in Missouri

  • 7 October 2015
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 230
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The Promise of Covergence: Transforming Health Care Delivery in Missouri

In 2006, the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors published a report stating that adults suffering from a serious mental illness were dying, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population. Deeply shocked and disturbed by these findings, Missouri officials knew they had to shift the way the state delivered health care services to those suffering from mental illnesses and chronic conditions. Their response? Developing a new model of integrated medical and behavioral care for Missouri’s most vulnerable Medicaid population. They started small and successfully implemented a narrowly focused, integrative care program that produced favorable outcomes for a small population of high-cost Medicaid patients. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, Missouri officials saw an opportunity to expand this coordinated service delivery model. However, they didn’t want to simply create a bigger program; they wanted to facilitate a statewide paradigm shift in the way health care facilities delivered care.

Missouri was facing a formidable challenge. The changes needed would impact traditional organizational structures, operating models and systems, as well as workforce composition, roles, and identities. Underpinning this initiative would be new data structures to capture the information needed to guide decisions and measure outcomes, robust partnerships with public and private entities to coordinate various aspects of care and ensure data was shared in a timely manner, and a new workforce model to offer integrative care. Furthermore, new positions would need to integrate into existing health care agencies, staff would have to alter the way they delivered care, and sweeping budget cuts meant resources would be scarce. Lastly, Missouri officials would need to design a sustainable funding model to ensure long term viability for their vision and to secure support from the General Assembly.

Leading and Managing During Times of Transition: Virginia Department of General Services Case Study

  • 15 October 2014
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 106
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Leading and Managing During Times of Transition: Virginia Department of General Services Case Study

Ensuring a smooth succession of executive power during a gubernatorial transition requires coordinating many complex, politically-sensitive, moving parts. The state chief administrator sits at the epicenter of this vitally important sixty day period, and is often responsible for managing the transition, inauguration, and executive mansion. These tasks demand strong leadership and management skills, and draw on some of the most important core competencies required to be a successful state chief administrator.

Implementing Innovative Policy: A Case Study on Energy Saving in Kentucky

  • 15 September 2013
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 101
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Implementing Innovative Policy: A Case Study on Energy Saving in Kentucky

If we could design state operations from scratch, rarely would we structure government as it is today. The many different legacy systems and structures that grew organically are often an impediment to innovation. New technologies and business processes offer the potential for smarter more efficient ways of running governments, but implementing these technologies and systems is often impossible because of historical baggage. The case study presented here is the story of a state chief administrator in Kentucky faced with a mandate from the governor to reduce energy usage 15% by 2015 that coincided with a brilliant idea to centrally measure and control energy. What stood in the way was decades of customs, practices, software and hardware developed differently in each agency and each building. Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s faced the same challenges in convincing a baseball culture steeped in tradition that there was smarter way of doing business. In spite of steep resistance he revolutionized the sport by overcoming the institutional inertia and demonstrating that a similar data-driven approach could build a championship team on a shoe-string budget.

Leading Culture Change: Opportunities & Challenges for a State Chief Administrator

  • 23 September 2012
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 99
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Leading Culture Change: Opportunities & Challenges for a State Chief Administrator

How can a state chief administrator go about leading culture change within a large and disparate organization? What skills and strategies are needed to shift the many different cultures, attitudes and business functions that fall under the state chief administrator to improve customer service and efficiency? The case study presented here is based on an ongoing real-life scenario, but has been altered to maintain the anonymity of the particular state chief administrator and the state employees who were interviewed. Part A describes details of the case with pause points for some of the major strategic decisions that the state chief administrator faced along the way. Part B, which will be distributed at the Institute, describes the changes that the state chief administrator actually implemented.

What It Takes To Be A Sucessful State Chief Administrator

  • 1 July 2012
  • Author: Kayla Leslie
  • Number of views: 94
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What It Takes To Be A Sucessful State Chief Administrator

The National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) continually works to provide valuable resources to state chief administrators (SCAs), the public officials in charge of departments that provide support services to other state agencies. While some research exists on the functional roles of SCAs, there is little information on the skills needed for SCAs to be successful in their jobs. The average length of appointment for most SCAs is about 2.7 years. Since the vast majority of SCAs are appointed by the Governor and serve at the Governor’s pleasure, it is a role with a limited transition period. For many SCAs, the job begins as a sprint from Day 1. 

To help new SCAs quickly adjust to the job and experienced SCAs improve how they do their jobs, we decided to look at the state of effective practice among successful SCAs rather than rely on theory or academic research. The unique nature of this job makes peer-to-peer insights and advice very valuable. In the private sector, organizations are increasingly identifying core competencies, or trainable attributes, for leadership roles in their hiring and continuing education practices. They do so to maintain a competitive edge in the management of their organizations. Likewise, in light of the Great Recession, state governments have to be managed efficiently and effectively. By highlighting core competencies that are specific to the jobs SCAs oversee, our goal was to make this report both practical and actionable.

With Fels Research & Consulting leading the research, NASCA produced this report, What it Takes to Be a Successful State Chief Administrator: Core Competencies for Effective Leadership, to serve as a basic guide for any SCA or to help governors seeking to appoint an SCA identify specific skills in a new hire. This report is sensitive to the fact that no two SCAs face the same challenges or operate in the same environment. The core competencies presented here are meant to be adapted by SCAs based on their unique circumstances.

As a former state chief administrator, I have often said it was the best and most interesting job that I have ever had. Through my involvement with NASCA and my continued interactions with SCAs, I have seen the SCA role evolve into one of increasing importance. The leadership that SCAs provide can truly make a difference in how state government conducts its business, reforms itself, and even in the public perception of state employees and state government. A report like this would have been helpful to have read before I took office. We hope that any SCA who reads this report will find the insights useful.
 

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