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DWD SECRETARY TO NAME DVR TASK FORCE
For the greater part of its history, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation has enjoyed a solid reputation for providing excellent services to people with disabilities throughout Wisconsin. This long tradition is part of the culture of your organization. Those of you who have worked so hard to contribute to this success deserve to be commended.
Recently however, as we are all aware, there have been a number of developments which have undermined this fine reputation and threatened our capacity to serve our clients properly.
As the new Secretary of the Department of Workforce Development, I am deeply disturbed by the situation in which we find ourselves at present. The purpose of this letter, therefore, is to let you know that I am absolutely determined to take whatever actions are necessary to assist DVR to restore its reputation as a deliverer of effective, high quality services to people with disabilities. You deserve no less, and our clients, who we care deeply about, deserve no less.
I ask you at this time and with a deep sense of urgency, to work with me and cooperate with me, to bring about the changes that are necessary in the division and in our Department to restore DVR's reputation as a proud and efficient organization. This is what your leadership wants, I am sure this is what you want ,and it is what I want.
I know many changes have already begun. Under your administrator, Tom Dixon, a number of valuable initiatives have been put into place, including policies designed to streamline the process for consumers, management training, recruitment and retention strategies, and to provide better fiscal monitoring tools for the field managers. These are an excellent beginning but we need to do more.
As you know, the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has been conducting a thorough review of DVR practices and policies and DWD's financial support systems. The LAB is expected to release its findings in early October.
I have two reactions to this forthcoming report.
First, I openly welcome this study with enthusiasm. I anticipate that it will contain some information that may highlight past mistakes and practices that will embarrass our agency. But it will also be absolutely invaluable in assisting us in taking immediate action to correct problem areas that still exist. The LAB is our ally in these efforts and not our enemy and I want you all to see their report that way. The report is designed to help us and I fully intend to use its findings in a constructive way to solve our problems.
Second, as the new Secretary of this department, I do not need this report in order to begin an immediate, dramatic, comprehensive reform effort of our own.
So, today, I am announcing the formation of the DVR Strategic Reform Task Force.
The purpose of this task force is to examine thoroughly, comprehensively and quickly the role, policies, practices, organization and finances of DVR in an effort to make it the best vocational rehabilitation program in the country. This includes demanding that DWD itself consider the tools and supportive services necessary to do the job.
The task force will focus on three areas: customer service, customer service, and customer service; and how this can best be provided within the resources available and with disciplined fiscal responsibility.
The membership of the DVR task force will include but not be limited to:
We are not going to spend a lot of money on fancy consultants to come in to do this job for us. We will retain the services of a professional meeting facilitator to assist our task force in dealing with key issues in a structured and efficient way at its meeting. I do not plan to spend one cent of scarce DVR money on this project. It will be paid for from other funds. We have the talent, leadership and experience to solve problems and set new directions ourselves with good advice from our customers and constituents.
I plan to form this group and hold its first meeting as soon as possible, no later than three weeks from now. The task force will meet for two or three days of intensive review and planning. I expect a far reaching customer centered reform program, for DVR and DWD to emerge from this process.
One of the first orders of business for the task force will be to receive and review the report of the LAB in order to determine how its recommendations can be productively incorporated in our own reform effort. The LAB report will serve to "jump start" our own reform task force.
I welcome any suggestions and recommendations from any of you who may wish to contribute your knowledge and expertise to the task force and to returning DVR to its rightful place as America's premier vocational rehabilitation program.
When the task force has completed its work and has made its comprehensive reform recommendations to me, I will work relentlessly in cooperation with you to implement them as soon as possible. It will be our blueprint for change.
In anticipation of implementing the recommendations of the task force and the LAB, we will be taking steps to prepare the DVR for this change. I have asked the training section of DWD to develop a complete change management program to help employees to positively accept the inevitable changes that are coming.
I realize that DVR has been through significant change over the last 5 years, moving from one Department to another and going through a re-organization and a reengineering but we must further adapt to whatever changes are necessary to bring excellence to this program. I have full confidence that your administrator, Tom Dixon, and the fine employees of DVR are committed to excellence. So am I. We will need the help of all of you to attain it.
I ask you to fully embrace this wonderful opportunity to bring about needed change in DVR. I ask you to seize this chance to reform our policies and practices to serve our clients in the best manner possible. I ask you to see this entire effort as a vehicle for achieving the change which you all know will enrich our clients lives in the most meaningful possible way.