Why we proposed the Lean efficiency program


Corporations and municipal governments across the Country have realized that engaging front line employees—the folks who are actually doing the work—in a collaborative process to identify ways to streamline services truly pays dividends.

The Lean approach is aimed at doing just that. It fosters a collaborative environment between executives, managers and front line workers to figure out how to eliminate waste and improve efficiency in government. And implementing government efficiencies translates directly to taxpayer savings.

For example, when King County Seattle used Lean to examine and streamline the delivery in various service areas, taxpayers saved millions of dollars. And those services to residents dramatically improved. Employing Lean reduced the turnaround time for motor vehicle license renewals from three weeks to five days. Similarly, taxicab-licensing was streamlined to 10 days, down from two months.

We believe that Lean can be applied at most if not all levels of service throughout Costa Mesa. For example: How can we make getting a permit more easier and efficient? How can we address overtime or staffing shortage challenges? Lean helps organizations review processes from a resident point of view and consider what adds value, what can be improved, and what can be eliminated.

Lean was first developed by Toyota to improve its manufacturing process. In the private sector it soon spread beyond its manufacturing genesis and demonstrated its value across the entire spectrum of corporate operations. Over the past several years Lean has been enthusiastically championed in the public sector by elected officials across the political spectrum, from Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin to Governors Christine Gregoire and Jay Inslee in Washington.

In Seattle (King County), it actually united long-time political adversaries. (You can read about the success of King County’s Lean program on its website.) And in Orange County, several County departments have embarked upon and successfully implemented Lean initiatives, including the Sheriff’s Department and the Health Care Agency.

CMCEA wants to partner with the City to establish a Lean working group to develop internal Lean process expertise, identify service areas amenable to Lean initiatives, and guide the Lean process through to implementation.

We agree with the City Council that it’s prudent to find ways to reduce costs and increase value for residents—CMCEA has always led the way in those efforts. We just think there are smarter and more responsible ways to reduce costs and increase value than arbitrary and vindictive across the board cuts that erode morale and the financial security of members of the Costa Mesa family.

That’s why we’re proposing the Costa Mesa Lean Initiative.