Partners For Change: OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11 and the State of Ohio
The Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA/AFSCME Local 11) and the State of Ohio began their quality improvement efforts in 1991, when Governor Voinovich established the Operations Improvements Task Force and OCSEA negotiated contract language supporting labor-management efforts to improve productivity and quality. In 1992, the Ohio Quality Steering Committee, composed of cabinet officials, agency directors, and OCSEA officials, was formed to launch Quality Services through Partnership (QStP). Drawing upon the expertise of private sector practitioners, in particular the Xerox Corporation, union and management leaders studied quality improvement tools and techniques, developed a mission statement and implementation plan, and started a major effort to provide quality improvement training to all state employees.
In 1993, the Quality Users Advisory Committee (later re-named the Ohio Quality Network) was formed, involving quality coordinators and union liaisons from all state departments. The Steering Committee was re-configured to include equal numbers of union and management members. The State Office of Quality was created and funded through legislation, and the parties jointly recruited a cabinet-level Quality Director. 1994 highlights included the incorporation of QStP principles into the collective bargaining agreement, further refinement and increased participation in the training program, and reports of cost savings and quality improvements resulting from team activities around the state. In 1995, the Office of Quality Services published two state-of-the-art quality improvement guides and the first “Team Up Ohio” conference was held. An early round of data collection revealed that there were 332 improvement teams underway and 480 trained team facilitators, numbers that grew to 809 teams and 916 facilitators by the following year. In 1996, the first two editions of “Results” were published, together documenting the accomplishments of over 100 teams. Now in its fifth edition, the Results Book has grown to include the achievements of 251 teams.
By all measures, QStP continues to grow and flourish. Equally important, newly-elected Governor Bob Taft is fully committed to the program. “Quality Services through Partnership is here to stay in Ohio for the next four years,” the Governor said in a January speech to public employees. “And I say that because Im committed to creating a workforce that brings out the best in our employees and delivers the best to our customers. I truly believe that if we all work together in partnership, then there are absolutely no limits to what we can accomplish.”
In Article 21 of the OCSEA-State of Ohio contract, the broad parameters for the structure of QStP are set forth. The Article contains a Statement of Principle that defines QStP as a joint effort for continuous quality improvement through teamwork and employee involvement, distinct from traditional collective bargaining and contract administration procedures. Also, the clause states that “outcomes or improvements resulting from QStP will not be used as the basis or rationale for layoffs.” The scope of QStP activities does not include issues addressed in collective bargaining, such as salaries, benefits, contract interpretations, discipline, or grievances. Rather, QStP is intended to address issues of operational efficiency and quality, such as the elimination of waste, reductions in paperwork, improvements in work processes or methods, improvements in tools and equipment, and so forth. Article 21 also provides for the steering committee, the jointly administered training program, and employment security assurances.
The State Steering Committee is composed of equal numbers of management and union representatives, and is supported by the Office of Quality Services. Together, they have formulated and implemented the statewide strategic plan. All 28 cabinet level departments have steering committees, also composed with equal numbers of labor and management members, and district, institution, or other local-level steering committees have also been formed where appropriate. At the workplace level, process improvement teams study and make improvements to specific work processes. A statewide working group called the Ohio Quality Network facilitates two-way communication between departments, and forms quality teams to improves processes common to all agencies.
As of January 1999, over $100 million in cost savings can be attributed to QStP activities, a conservative estimate that does not take into account the countless improvements in the quality of government services and customer satisfaction.
Over 54,000 employees have been trained in quality improvement techniques through the states in-house training program. QStP Basic Training includes sections on the problem-solving process, communications, and project design. The program has also produced more than 2,000 in-house team facilitators.
About 2,600 process improvement teams have been chartered statewide and are producing results. Too numerous to mention here, the specific accomplishments of teams have been described in five editions of the “Results Book” published by the Office of Quality Services.
Statewide “Team Up Ohio” conferences are held each year, where teams from all agencies share their experiences with successful quality initiatives. Attendance has grown from 40 teams and 600 participants in 1995 to over 150 teams and between 3,000 and 4,000 participants in 1998.
In 1996 QStP was featured in the report “Shifting the Labor Relations Paradigm: A Union-Management Partnership in Ohio State Government.” This report is part of the Case Studies in Public Policy and Management Series of the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
The Washington Post called the Ohio program “one of the best examples of labor-management partnership in government” (March 9, 1997).
The Times-Bulletin of Van Wert, Ohio, called OCSEA and its members “the driving forces behind quality improvement changes in state government” (August 19, 1996).
“QStP offers a shining light for those who are searching for ways to change the system,” says the Columbus Dispatch (August 2, 1996).
QStP was featured in Working Together for Public Service: Report of the U.S. Secretary of Labors Task Force on Excellence in State and Local Government Through Labor-Management Cooperation (US Department of Labor, 1996).
Ohio state officials testified before the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia on July 29, 1999. The title of their hearing was “Total Quality Management: State Success Stories as a Model for the Federal Government.”
To read the full text of Governor Tafts speech on QStP, go to: http://www.state.oh.us/quality/govtaft.html
All newspaper quotes cited above can be found in a Special Edition of the QStP Newsletter, available in Adobe Acrobat format at: http://www.state.oh.us/quality/QStP_Newsletter.pdf
The latest version of the “Results” book is available on-line at: http://www.state.oh.us/quality/
For information on Ohio state officials hearing in front of the US Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring, and the District of Columbia, go to: http://www.senate.gov/~gov_affairs/ogm_hearings.htm