Press Release State Budget

CBC Prize for Public Service Innovation to Be Awarded to New York State's Lean Initiative

April 07, 2016

New York, NY – The Citizens Budget Commission today announced that the winner of the 2016 CBC Prize for Public Service Innovation is New York State’s Lean Initiative. The CBC Prize is awarded annually – in alternating years to either a New York State or a New York City agency – to recognize and promote successful innovations in the delivery of public services. The Prize will be presented at the CBC Annual Dinner on Thursday, April 7, 2016.

New York State’s Lean Initiative (“Lean”) is an innovative public-private partnership designed to make government more efficient and responsive, and it has already had an impact on nearly 400 projects in 38 state agencies and public authorities since its inception in late 2013.

“Our administration is delivering on the promise to improve government service and reduce costs for taxpayers,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo. “We have raised the bar for bringing a private-sector mentality to public-sector services, and I applaud the thousands of state workers who have helped us build a stronger, more efficient, and more effective New York State.”

Lean is a process improvement tool that originated with private-sector manufacturers seeking to streamline their operations. It was originally made popular by Toyota, but today almost every Fortune 100 company has a Lean or Lean Six Sigma program. Lean is a process improvement tool that empowers front-line employees to redesign their own business processes to remove unnecessary steps, eliminate waste, and improve service. With help from corporate partners such as Toyota, Xerox, and GE, more than 600 State employees have been trained as Lean practitioners and more than 8,500 State workers have participated in Lean workshops. Streamlined operations have helped keep average agency spending growth to 1 percent annually.

Lean projects are concentrated in agencies and processes with a focus on one or more of three common themes. First, many projects focus on agencies and processes with the greatest interaction with the public. For example, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has embraced Lean, which has contributed to the reduction of office wait time by more than 50 percent on average. 

Second, Lean projects have helped to streamline and accelerate the licensing, permitting, and registration of New York State’s two million businesses and 800,000 individually licensed practitioners. These functions, which cross multiple agencies, have had their cycle time cut by about half on average.

Third, Lean has increased responsiveness to the public for acutely needed government services, including processing of benefit claims, scheduling hearings, and investigating alleged wrongdoing. The Department of Labor, for instance, has reduced its backlog of unemployment insurance break in claims requests by 77 percent.

The State is now exploring the next frontier of its Lean program, including the potential to pilot Lean with other state entities, local governments, and other funding recipients (similar to how Toyota and GE work with customers and suppliers to streamline their own operations).

“New York State deserves this recognition for embracing and spreading its Lean Initiative,” said CBC President Carol Kellermann. “Lean has yielded significant efficiencies and service improvements that benefit taxpayers, and it holds even greater promise for further expansion by State government of these impactful management techniques.”

About the CBC Prize for Public Service Innovation

Created in 1997, the Prize celebrates creative thinking and shares government achievements with the public and other agencies. In alternating years, it is awarded either to a New York State or a New York City agency. Each year the winner is selected from nominations requested from more than 150 government officials. The nominations are reviewed by CBC staff and a committee composed of CBC Trustees, and that committee of Trustees – co-chaired this year by Thomas J. Brodsky and Justin S. Steinberg – makes the selection.