The past few years have been challenging economically for the County of Kern. Due to the fall in the price of oil, the county has endured budget cuts and hiring freezes, and this past year, public safety was cut to balance the budget. Anything that can save the county money and allow us to operate more efficiently and productively, while still maintaining a high-quality level of service to our constituents, should be put to use.

The Lean Six Sigma initiative is one that I am excited to see implemented. Lean Six Sigma is a strategic business methodology that was popularized by General Electric CEO Jack Welch in the mid 1990s that allowed organizations to identify waste and inefficiencies within their own processes. Lean Six Sigma is not the solution to our problems but rather a tool for the county to help tackle its problems and achieve its goals. It is always the county’s goal to be a model of excellence in managing our business and our people. Lean Six Sigma will assist the county to become this model of excellence by taking a critical look at its internal processes in order to sustain value-added programs and services it is entrusted to provide to the Kern County taxpayers.

Kern County is beginning its Lean Six Sigma journey to ensure all departments and service areas are trained with the necessary tools to achieve this strategy. All county department heads and their executive staff will participate in training and be empowered to begin process improvements in their respective county departments, consistent with countywide strategic goals and business plans. As a part of this effort, the County Administrative Office will work with Behavioral Health and Recovery Services to develop a highly trained Lean Six Sigma countywide strike team trained up to the highest level, known as the green and black belt levels.

This highly trained team will not only facilitate continuous process improvement projects consistent with department business plans, but will train county employees to effect positive change at all levels of county government. By undertaking this initiative, the county is empowering its employees to participate in effecting lasting change within their departments and countywide.

We are proud be able to roll out Lean Six Sigma training to all county departments and service areas, but we are not alone in this journey. Dozens of local governments over the past few years have begun to implement a Lean Six Sigma strategy to address the growing demand for scarce resources. Success stories in cities like Houston and Louisville, and the counties of Miami-Dade, Fla., and King County, Wash., will help guide our journey.

Lean Six Sigma consultant Scott Thor, a Kern County resident, will provide the training. Scott has deployed Lean Six Sigma for other Fortune 500 companies, as well as local businesses such as Chevron and Aera Energy. No county general fund money is being used in this effort.

Our main priorities are to enhance the quality of life of all Kern County residents by ensuring a strong public safety force, invest in infrastructure where it matters most, and grow our economy and jobs. It is hoped that tools learned through Lean Six Sigma will help us make decisions that bolster our fiscal position, eliminate our structural debt, develop, retain, and reward our workforce, and attract new talent, and prepare for the future by becoming tomorrow’s government today.

There is no better time than now to rethink and reformulate your county government to embrace and deliver smart changes. We hope to develop and sustain public-private partnerships that are key to success in this day and age, and to strengthen and diversify our tax base.

I am excited about implementing this program countywide and look forward to learning the best practices featured by Lean Six Sigma. Our county is facing a future that is full of challenges – and this training will help county staff tackle these challenges in new and different ways so that we may better serve you, the taxpayer. I expect positive results by April 2018.

Supervisor Zack Scrivner represents the 2nd District, which includes Tehachapi, Mojave and points east.