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1526 K Street
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Lincoln, NE 68508



Previous Issues of The Huddle

Matthew Singh, M. Sci., CLSSMBB


Center of Operational Excellence:

The COE serves as the training center for continuous process improvement across all state agencies. It currently certifies White, Yellow, and Green Belts in Lean Six Sigma to those looking to engage in process improvement. Its goal is to help agencies simplify processes, resulting in a more effective, efficient, and customer-focused government. The COE has recently created and opened its Kaizen room, located in the State Capitol. It is used for training events and process improvement meetings.



Process Improvement Administrator

Roger Euter, MBA, CLSSGB

DAS Process Improvement Coordinator

Habib Olomi, MA, CLSSYB

Fire Marshal, Crime Commission, Parole

State of Nebraska Belt Certification Numbers

COE Invited to Speak at Iowa Lean Consortium

The Center of Operational Excellence team was invited to speak at the Iowa Lean Consortium on process improvement sponsored by Claas, Inc. The Consortium also included a tour of Claas, Inc. where participants viewed how Claas has implemented process improvement into their facility including utilizing 5S Carts. Pictured is Claas’ strategic alignment messaging board, examples of their 5S Cats, and Matt Singh, COE Director, and Heather Behl, Process Improvement Coordinator - Department of Correctional Services.















Cohort 3 Enters Week Two of Intense Classroom Training - 7/21/17

Cohort 3 of Nebraska Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Candidates finished up their first week of class room training by exercising the basics of process mapping. This week they spent their time engaging in leadership skills, SIPOC development, Gantt charts, charter creation, process mapping, and several other exciting Lean Six Sigma tools.


Class of Green Belt and Executive Green Belts Graduates - 6/27/17

On June 27, 2017, the Center of Operational Excellence graduated a new group of nine Green Belts and three Executive Green Belts. Click here to view our ceremony photo gallery.


Wahoo Maintenance Team Organizes Work Area Using 5S Approach - 5/23/17

By utilizing the 5-S tools, a group of Department of Transportation workers in Wahoo improved their work area and implemented a visual work area where there is "a place for everything and everything in its place." They began by discussing the opportunities to improve the work space by eliminating material and movement waste from the mechanic's environment. They developed a map to reorganize and color code the work area, labeled over 300 items to enhance efficiency, and utilized the 5S approach of "Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain" for an organized work space. "Afterwards, it has really opened my eyes to all the wasted space and excess junk that we no longer used. After cleaning and organizing our work areas it has made our shop cleaner and more user friendly," said Allan Jansa, Highway Maintenance Crew Chief, Wahoo Yard.


Nebraska State Patrol IT Removes Duplicated Wifi Service - 5/23/17

In order to utilize wifi while working in the field, Nebraska State Patrol (NSP) troopers were using a HotSpot app on their phones to provide internet access to their laptops. As new technology became available, NSP IT started issuing laptops with the same wifi hotspot technology built in. Realizing troopers did not need this hotspot capability on both their cell phone and laptop, NSP IT began deactivating the HotSpot application. They were able to save $10 per unit per month, resulting in an annual savings of $7,920.


Department of Environmental Quality Swim Lanes - 3/31/17

Department of Environmental Quality’s Remediation work group embraces the power of visual management tools, like Swim Lanes, to help drive their business objectives.


DHHS Daily Huddle - 3/20/17

Samuel Malson, Economic Assistance TANF policy leader, implements daily huddles to discuss team obstacles and goals for the day. The team has also seen benefits related to the use of a tool called Swim Lane board. One of the best parts of the Swim Lane board is the visual it creates for everyone to see each day. It is a constant reminder of the larger projects the program is working on, helps keep the projects at the forefront, and keeps our focus on the big picture. Daily huddles provide a great opportunity to touch base as a team and briefly identify obstacles that may need additional time dedication. It is especially beneficial because not all team members are in the same office. The team uses Skype as the platform so all team members can see the board and each other. As Sam put it, “Many times, we all have so many projects going on, that if you do not work on something for a few days or talk about the project for a few days, there is a chance it could go by the wayside.”


Non Code Process Improvement - 3/17/17

Members of the COE Green Belt network work with Executive Leadership of non-code agencies to bring understanding and discussion about process improvement. Andi Bridgmon explains the different levels of stakeholder involvement  in process improvement to eager participants.







Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Ceremony - 2/6/17

On February 16th, 2017, the Center of Operational Excellence conducted and award ceremony at the Governor’s mansion awarding the title of “Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt” to the State’s first 6 Green Belts. The recipients and their guests had lunch with the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Cabinet members as Byron Diamond, Matthew Singh, and Governor Pete Ricketts congratulated them for their hard efforts. Between the 6 of them, the State has completed 12 improvement projects since October. The Center of Operational Excellence is looking to officially certify ten more candidates by July of this year. View the photo gallery here.

Certified Lean Six Sigma White Belt (C.L.S.S.W.B)

White Belt training is a one-hour session that introduces State of Nebraska team member to basic Lean Six Sigma concepts. The goal is to begin to help the recipient see waste in the process around them and have a basic level of understanding of how to combat that waste.

Intended for: All State team members
Length: 1 Hour
Prerequisites: None
Availability: Online & In person


Certified Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt (C.L.S.S.Y.B)

Yellow Belt training is the next level for learning about process improvement for the State of Nebraska. It reviews how to make daily improvements in the workplace. The training will focus on establishing QDIP boards, KPI’s, and use of problem solving tools like: The Pareto Principle, 5 Why’s, Fishbone Diagrams and Control charts.

Intended for: All State Administrators, managers, and supervisors
Length: 4 Hours
Prerequisites: Certified Lean Six Sigma White Belt
Availability: In person- classroom


Certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (C.L.S.S.G.B)

Green Belt training is the foundation for professional process improvement in the State of Nebraska. It covers an in-depth understanding of; Leadership, team dynamics, motivational theories, and an intimate description of all DMAIC tools used in the State of Nebraska. Participants are required to apply the knowledge and skills back in their agencies for process improvement projects, and to collaborate and mentor with others in the COE network.

Intended for: Process Improvement Coordinators
Length: 2 weeks + 2 Project
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma White Belt
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt
Availability: In person- classroom


Certified Lean Six Sigma Executive Green Belt (C.L.S.S.E.G.B)

Executive Green Belt training serve as the foundation for how to manage and mentor an entire process improvement program within an agency. It covers a high level overview of all the same information in the normal Lean Six Sigma Green Belt Training, but also goes into depth describing the decision sciences and how to use lean techniques to make the “Executive Decision” focused on finding large scale improvements in their agencies. Participants are required to apply the knowledge and skills back in their agencies for process improvement projects, and to collaborate and mentor with others in the COE network.

Intended for: Executive level directors and officers at both the enterprise and agency level.
Length: 4 weeks + 4 Assignments
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma White Belt
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt
Availability: Online + Oral Exam


Certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt (C.L.S.S.B.B)

Black Belt training is an intense 5 week classroom based training that reviews all aspects of project management, DMAIC method, Leadership, Team Development, Strategy, Crucial Conversations, among other important Lean Six Sigma tools. This training is focused on producing deliverable bottom line results resulting from data driven management techniques. It includes outside reading material and a proven track record of success within the State’s Lean Six Sigma program. The Black Belt program will be launched in late 2017.

Intended for: High functioning Process Improvement Coordinators 
Length: 5 weeks of training + 8 Projects
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma White Belt
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma Yellow Belt
   • Completion of Lean Six Sigma Green Belt (including 8 highly successful projects)
Availability: In person- classroom & extensive mentorship.


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Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs

Employee Reimbursement Form

Nebraska Department of Veterans’ Affairs (NDVA) was able to reduce process time and eliminate 26 steps after reviewing the procedures for teammates to submit employment reimbursement documents. NDVA provided written instructions to teammates on how to complete the form and routed the form electronically for approval to eliminate paper waste.


(Pictured) During the process walk, members of the NDVA team demonstrated the process of submitting a reimbursement form. (From left to right) Dawn Longwell is submitting her reimbursement form for approval with Dan Albrecht’s assistance while Kylie Hatten observes and takes notes.


Department of Health and Human Services

Social Services and Aged and Disabled Coordination

Social Services Aged and Disabled (SSAD) is a state-funded program that provides in-home services and is very similar to the Personal Assistance Services (PAS) program. Eligibility for these two programs is handled by separate agencies and clients do not always know if they should apply for SSAD or PAS (they cannot be enrolled in both simultaneously).


Through client interviews, it was revealed that applicants were often transferred between multiple DHHS teammates in different divisions and found it difficult to determine which program they should apply for. Interviews were conducted with social services workers, a majority of whom expressed issues with being assigned the more complex and specialized SSAD cases that they were often unsure how to handle.


The number of teammates who handle SSAD cases was reduced from 105 to 20. The teammates working on these cases are the ones who had the highest accuracy and proficiency dealing with these cases. This reduced the process time for each case, resulting in a savings of over 1,350 hours annually. In addition, it allowed the remaining 85 teammates to focus on their program cases, application processing, and other work tasks.


Department of Correctional Services

Nebraska Correctional Center for Women - Medication Cards

The Department of Correctional Services looked to see if there was a better way of packaging and distributing medicine for the Nebraska Correctional Center for Women. The old process was time consuming because it required the preparation of single-use blister packs. Working with the DMAIC method, the team developed a way to transition to 30-day supplies of medication cards. This cut 21 steps from the process, resulted in an 87% reduction in lead time, and 45% reduction in process time.


Department of Transportation

Copy Center - 5S Process

The Copy Center team responds to a variety of copy and scanning requests from internal employees and external customers like highway construction contractors. The copy center needed space for paper storage and new, larger copy and scan machines/systems. In addition, there was a large amount of waste from inventory, overproduction, motion, waiting, and not utilizing staff talent.


By utilizing the 5S method (Sort, Shine, Set in Order, Standardize, Sustain) the team was able to reduce storage of equipment so the copy center could store the  paper it needs to make wide-format copies. There was a reduction in supplies and inventory and an increase label usage by 50%. Excess supplies were redistributed or sold at surplus auction and space was made available for paper pallets that can no longer be stored at central warehouse and new/larger printer/scanners.


Department of Health and Human Services

LPN/RN Wallet Size License Cards Elimination

During a process improvement project to reduce the process time for the licensing of Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, an improvement was found by no longer sending wallet size license cards through the mail and allowing licensees to print these off themselves.  This process improvement was then implemented throughout the entire Licensure Unit.


The process of printing and mailing the wallet size cards to all licensees was estimated at 773 hours per year. The wallet size licenses also had to be printed on specific paper with a peelable license and mailed to the licensee.


Department of Banking & Finance

Mail Delivery

We realized it took 8.5 hours to deliver the mail, so our goal was to reduce lead and process time by 50%. We met with the director to discuss his SMART Goals and found one of his goals was to create a Rapid Response Unit inside Consumer Affairs. Because the mail delivery was the first step in this Rapid Response process, we had a unique opportunity to approach process improvement. By streamlining processes and developing a simpler system, we had great success in revamping the mail system while at the same time working towards the Rapid Response SMART Goal. Mail is now delivered at 9:00 am instead of 11:15, and online complaints are no longer printed, but rather sent electronically to the administrator. Lead time for online complaints was reduced from 8.5 hours to four minutes.


Department of Correctional Services

Leadership Academy

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) developed and launched its own leadership academy in mid-January, effectively avoiding off-site costs while investing in the department’s most valuable resource – its leaders. The 40-hour academy engages front-line supervisors and mid-managers in discussions around communication, collaboration, delegation, managing conflict, handling difficult conversations, and active listening. So far, 76 leaders have completed the course.

“The benefit of bringing people together with broad years of experiences from facilities throughout the state in invaluable,” said Director Scott Frakes. “It creates a venue where wisdom can be shared, ideas become action, change agents are empowered and all become better at carrying out our mission."


Uniform Acquisition Process

The Nebraska Department of Correctional Services (NDCS) redesigned and streamlined a uniform acquisition process for its correctional officers. Through the new process, employees can try on their new uniforms their first day of work allowing them to address any sizing issues in real time reducing time needed for addressing this issue from an average of 4 occurrences per class to an average below 1 occurrence per class. This improvement has resulted in increased moral and less time spent having to re-size and re-issue uniforms for incoming employees.





Department of Health and Human Services

Triage Work

The Office of Long-Term Care processes all the triage work for our facilities and then shares them with the applicable program area within the licensure area to determine the priority of patients' treatments based on the severity of their condition. However, the program areas will often re-triage intakes before taking action on them. For the 2016 calendar year, the complaint intake had a 67% accuracy rate and resulted in several reworks at the end of the process. The goal was to meet Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) performance standards, which included increasing the accuracy of priority level triages from 67% to 90% and decreasing lead time from nine days to two days.

We reviewed the number of re-triaged intakes to get an understanding of why there was so much rework. We also reviewed the accuracy rating from CMS in an effort to pinpoint reasons the accuracy was low. In the end, we focused on a solution that would bring us closer to a First Pass Yield of 90%. We made the decision template as mistake-proof as possible. In the pilot phase, the template idea was proven to work and implemented for a single facility type.

Moving forward, all facilities have completed individualized templates, which have in turn been tested and will continue to be revised to improve accuracy. The team created templates specific to a variety of license types and within these templates the triage workers could identify the sources of information and describe in detail the justification for their decision analysis, whether they chose a triage priority or not. This will give CMS reviewers a clearer understanding of the justification for the triage priority and it provides the program areas a means to provide specific training on areas of disagreement over the triage priority.


Child Care Center Application Process

The Department of Health and Human Services recently completed their Initial Child Care Center Application process aimed at improving the timeliness on processing the Child Care Center Licensing applications. Through the use of Lean Six Sigma tools, the team was able to take the process from 129 days down to 75 days with a 44% reduction in steps. In addition, they were able to eliminate 13 delays in the process. Pictured is Seth Fager, Process Improvement Coordinator for DHHS and the Division of Public Health – Licensure Child Care team.


The Department of Health and Human Services recently completed the Physicians Application Processing project, which reduced the number of days to process an application from 67 days to 37 days, a 45% reduction. In addition, they reduced the number of steps in the process from 33 down to 19.



Department of Transportation

Road Oil

Road oil is purchased, delivered, and used by all eight districts of the Department of Transportation for construction and maintenance projects. The road oil ordering process was identified by management as having too many steps and consuming too many labor hours during the busy season when order numbers increase and staff availability is limited.

Initially, we mapped out the current process and collected data to validate the process time and lead time for the current state. Next, the team analyzed the data and brainstormed creative solutions that would have the greatest impact on the process. A pilot test of the new process revealed process steps were reduced from 27 to nine steps, lead time was reduced from nine days to five days, and process time was reduced from 36 minutes to 7 minutes, among other improvements.

"We were over-processing how NDOT Procurement receives and places orders for road oil for the Districts,” said Rita Kucera, Highway Procurement Manager. “I am proud of this team for really questioning the current processes and being open to looking for efficiencies and in doing things differently and not just falling back into ‘this is the way we have always done it.’”


Employee Orientation

Nebraska Department of Transportation recently improved its new employee orientation procedure effecting over 200 new employees annually. In the past it could take over 2 months for a team member to be scheduled for orientation as it only occurred 6 times a year. In addition, employees from all over the State had to take the time and energy to drive to Lincoln. After including the expertise of subject matter experts and training professionals, the orientation has maintained it’s same level of quality while now being provided in an online format. Training online prevents team members from having to drive several hours to Lincoln. In addition, now they can be trained within days instead of months. This has saved over 2,500 work hours per year.


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Center of Operational Excellence


Department of Administrative Services


Department of Correctional Services


Department of Environmental Quality


Department of Health and Human Services


Department of Labor


Department of Natural Resources


Department of Transportation


Governor's Office

  • Matt Miltenberger, CLSSEGB


State Patrol


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