Public safety is a core value of Arizonans. It is an area that has seen vast improvements and increased efficiency through the Arizona Management System (AMS), which is Gov. Doug Ducey’s initiative to improve government by focusing on understanding “customer” needs, identifying problems, continually improving processes and measuring results. There are 42 state agencies that have all engaged in this process. The following are but a handful of examples of what is working in Arizona as it pertains to a critical function of government – public safety.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), led by Colonel Frank Milstead, has set a goal to provide the most courteous and vigilant service to the state. As one who has worked closely with their commercial vehicle division for years, I could never adequately thank the officers for all of the work they have done for our industry and our state in order to keep us safe. Their compliance assistance, training and sharing of critical data to assist in promoting safe operation of commercial vehicles have made a tremendous difference in the performance of heavy truck operators. Our appreciation of this key partnership and the service first responders provide will never go unnoticed or underappreciated. That said, this is one of several examples of what the agency has accomplished.
There is nothing more important than safe transport of our precious children, and DPS currently provides school bus drivers with their certification. At the close of 2015, the certification process was completed in approximately 46 days for about 1,200 certifications. Utilizing AMS, the program was significantly altered, removing processes that did not add any value. Through these actions, and a change in law which allowed DPS to accept the fingerprint clearance card, DPS has reduced the certification process to an average of only one day in 2018.
In June 2018, the Concealed Weapons Permit Unit’s (CWPU) backlog had grown to more than 10,900 applications pending entry into the database. Permits requiring no research took 52 days to issue to applicants and 53 days when research was required. In August, the CWPU participated in a lean process exercise. By September, the CWPU eradicated the backlog of applications. In total, over 15,500 applications were processed between August and September. Permit applications not requiring investigation are now issued in four days, and 16 days for applications requiring research.
Gov. Ducey’s vision to modernize and streamline state government is all about transforming the way Arizona government operates. Through the Arizona Department of Corrections (ADC), the governor initiated a statewide effort to reduce the state’s rate of recidivism. By creating an innovative multi-agency partnership between Department of Corrections and Department of Economic Security, Second Chance Centers were established at the Lewis, Perryville, and Tucson state prisons. Corrections professionals and workforce specialists provide a comprehensive eight-week program to prepare and equip releasing inmates with career and life skills needed to succeed after prison.
The governor, along with the leadership of ADC Director Chuck Ryan, also expanded the department’s re-entry center program, which assists offenders who have been recently released from prison to successfully complete their period of community supervision. The Pima and Maricopa re-entry centers provide critical programs and services, in partnership with other state agencies and community groups, that help keep offenders from going back to prison and on a path to have a real second chance in life.
Using AMS, Arizona Department of Homeland Security (AZDOHS) Director Gilbert Orrantia has cut first responder reimbursements timeline by 66 percent. AZDOHS reduced the average time to process reimbursements to first responder organizations in other jurisdictions from 42 days to 14 days or fewer, minimizing their capital outlay and allowing more interagency partnering in order to keep our communities safe through seamless operations and coordination.
Finally, Maj. Gen. Michael McGuire leads the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs (DEMA). Currently, the Arizona National Guard (AZNG) has a force of more than 8,000 citizen-soldiers and airmen, has supported our nation with more than 12,000 individual deployments to overseas contingency operations since Sept. 11, 2001, and nearly 1,500 Arizona National Guard citizen-soldiers and airmen are currently activated in operations at home and overseas in support of our state and our nation.
The AZNG also houses the counterdrug program, a full spectrum campaign that bridges the gap between – and among – DoD and Non-DoD institutions in the fight against illicit drugs and transnational threats to the homeland. Additionally, the 91st Civil Support Team Weapons of Mass Destruction is a fulltime unit that supports emergency preparedness programs statewide to assist civilian authorities in preparing for, or responding to, any emergency. These programs were initiated to defeat threats in order to enhance national security and protect our society. Both essential functions of DEMA depend on complex coordination, and like the previously-mentioned programs, AMS principles are constantly being applied to ensure safety and security of all we hold dear.
Steve Trussell is executive director of both Arizona Rock Products Association and Arizona Mining Association