Four County Programs Win Challenge Awards

Anthony Rose is one of the hundreds of volunteers for the County Parks and Recreation Department.
September 18, 2012 | 3:02pm

Electronic juvenile delinquency case files accessible from a laptop replaced mountains of duplicate paper files. And a fortified volunteer pool now oversees and assists with popular public services at county parks. Both successful initiatives and two others were recognized among the most cost-effective and innovative programs in the state.

The California State Association of Counties (CSAC) honored San Diego County’s Juvenile Justice Electronic Library System (JELS) program and the Parks and Recreation Volunteer Program with a Challenge Award. The County’s Lean Six Sigma program, an initiative that has improved procedures in the Health and Human Services Agency, and a web-based referral system for the Public Administrator and Public Guardian earned Merit Awards.

“We are pleased that four of our programs have been recognized for the clever and inventive actions San Diego County employees are taking to provide better service to the public,” said Chairman Ron Roberts, San Diego County Board of Supervisors. “These four programs are seeing impressive results when it comes to saving time and money.”

The 2012 CSAC Awards recipients were announced Friday. The awards spotlight creative programs demonstrating leadership and results that provide better service to residents and save time and money whenever possible.

Overall, 18 counties were selected as recipients for 37 awards from 220 entries, which were evaluated by an independent panel of judges.

The four San Diego County program recipients are:

  • The Justice Electronic Library System has transitioned deputy district attorneys from paper files to electronic files eliminating the need for extensive paper copies and filing. Since implementing the process in February 2011, deputy district attorneys have reported improved productivity for attorneys and support staff. The productivity has translated into a savings of $360,000 due to time saved and will likely be replicated in other government hearing processes.
  • The Department of Parks and Recreation has used its volunteer program to continue services for the public at a time when funding sources are diminishing. A volunteer program coordinator has helped train and maintain a regular volunteer base of more than 400 regular volunteers that includes 100 live-in park hosts at campgrounds and day-use parks, 140 park patrol members and others who work as mentors, coaches, docents and day volunteers at community centers. Additionally, about 2,000 people volunteer on a one-day basis throughout the year. The volunteers save the department an estimated $2 million.
  • The Lean Six Sigma initiative seeks to improve complicated, inefficient processes by eliminating waste in services, improving quality and achieving better results. The County’s Health and Human Services Agency launched the initiative in 2010 with improved results that include shorter wait times and reduced injuries to patients and staff. A consultant holds trainings for public health staff that teaches how to evaluate and improve processes with a team approach. Just like in Karate, staff can achieve various color belts for each level as they train.
  • A secure web-based e-referral system was created for the Public Administrator/Public Guardian. The website allows the public to report information after business hours and interfaces with the county’s case management system so referrals are received faster regarding administrating an estate or conservatorship for those who are no longer capable of managing their own finances. Since its implementation - and despite an increase in the number of referrals - the department has increased its compliance rate to 99 percent of a state-mandated requirement that investigations begin within two business days of referral. The department saved money by reducing staff time previously spent on data entry, faxing, mailing and emailing referral forms.