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FOR RELEASE: January 5, 2001
CONTACT: Dick Gunn
405/271-5601

STAR Guides State Health Department Changes

Probably no other state agency has received as much public attention or experienced as much internal reorganization in recent months as the Oklahoma State Department of Health. "We have charted tremendous improvements within the agency over the past seven months," said Jerry Regier, Acting Director of the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Secretary for Health and Human Services. "These improvements, however, have resulted in substantial organizational changes that have been difficult for many employees to interpret. We needed a method to communicate with employees that would provide clear direction on the organizational changes taking place and allow employees to provide their feedback."

As a result, a STAR was born. The acronym represents Standards for Trust And Responsibility, an Intranet process designed to provide rapid access to state health department policies, processes and outcomes targeted at the agency"s reformation.

"STAR provides accurate and timely information to our employees about the changing organizational environment while concurrently seeking opinions, thoughts and concerns of employees on how the proposed changes might be implemented with maximum long-term benefit to the workforce," Regier said.

During the first seven weeks of operation, from November 17, 2000, through January 4, 2001, the STAR Intranet site received 90,090 "hits" from employees, averaging 2,906 hits per working day. (Hits are defined when a web browser requests a page with actual content from the web server; hits to buttons, bars, etc. are not counted.) One of the most popular sections has been the "Hold Your Horses" section. Here, employees can find out the truth about any rumors accompanying change within the department. Employees anonymously post a rumor and STAR staff will research and post the answer. "This section has allowed us to respond quickly to employee questions and concerns," Regier noted.

Other "points" of STAR include:

  • "The Word" - This area provides a place to post ideas for change, in draft form, so employees can review and comment. This area also documents all official changes within the organization, including its structure and alignments and delegations of authority and responsibility. Currently posted on "The Word" are requests for comments on a proposed agency organizational chart, agency policy-related memos, and information on applicants for the now vacant Commissioner of Health post.
  • "Voice of the People" - Responses to employee surveys are posted at this STAR point.

Three other STAR points will soon be activated:

  • "Moments for Change" - This section will provide an opportunity for employees to make suggestions that could improve the organizational and cultural environment.
  • "The Problem" - Here employees can post descriptions of organizational problems as well as potential solutions that will result in increased service, cost reduction or workforce enhancement.
  • "Socrates" - At this area, employees will be able to post questions about work-related ethical dilemmas.

"I believe the STAR process demonstrates the Oklahoma State Department of Health"s level of commitment to improving staff morale and communication, " said Regier. "This process will also help assure the quality performance of our employee workforce. We believe staff who are content and informed will also provide a higher level of service to Oklahoma"s citizens."

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