Reengineering the Rehabilitation Process
Jackson, James L., The Journal of Rehabilitation
During Federal Fiscal Year 1994, over 20,000 persons with disabilities in the State of Texas were successfully rehabilitated using the 497 counselors of the Texas Rehabilitation Commission. Ninety-five percent (95%) of these were placed into the competitive labor market, with 76% of all served classified as being severely disabled. Client satisfaction surveys revealed that 90% of the persons receiving services were either satisfied or very satisfied with services provided. From these data, one could draw the conclusion that the federal/state Vocational Rehabilitation Program in Texas is healthy, alive, and well. But VR clients were complaining about delays in services, being placed in low-paying jobs, having their cases closed in employment status without meaningful services being provided, and bureaucratic nightmares while receiving services.
Counselors providing vocational rehabilitation services were also complaining about shortages of case service funds, excessive numbers of clients, too many forms to complete, too many approvals needed, a lack of trust by management, too many codes with which to deal, and too much paperwork. Vendors of VR agencies were also asking to become more involved with the agency so that they could better plan for their role in providing services.
In assessing the need to change, the Texas Rehabilitation Commission realized that the process in which a person with a disability was served was not greatly changed since the inception of the Texas General Vocational Rehabilitation Program in 1929. It was not uncommon for clients to wait up to 6 to 8 weeks to have an appointment with a vocational rehabilitation counselor. In Texas, only 10% of the eligible population with disabilities currently receive services. Consumers of services were, of course, not satisfied with these conditions. Accordingly, an executive decision was made in August 1993 to develop a new streamlined process for serving persons with disabilities and on January 1, 1994, Reengineering the Rehabilitation Process was launched within the Texas Rehabilitation Commission.
About the Organization
The Texas Rehabilitation Commission is one of over 200 agencies in Texas state government, ranking eleventh in size with an annual budget of $240 million and some 2,500 full-time employees. The Commission administers two major programs, the General Vocational Rehabilitation Program and the Disability Determination Services Program (DDS). The latter is 100% funded by the Social Security Administration. in Fiscal Year 1994, the Commission provided services to over 80,000 persons with disabilities in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and to over 220,000 in the DDS Program. The Commission employs 497 vocational rehabilitation counselors who serve persons with disabilities in 147 offices across the state.
Appointment of Reengineering Task Force
The first step in the reengineering process was to appoint a task force for the initiative. Subscribing to the theory that persons performing the jobs are the most knowledgeable about the tasks to be performed, the Reengineering Task Force consisted of six vocational rehabilitation counselors, three rehabilitation services technicians (secretaries to VR counselors), and two area managers. Central Office staff representing Planning and Financial Services, Management Audit, Information Technology, and Program Development were also assigned. To ensure input from the consumer population, a client being served in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program was included on the task force and was paid a consultant's fee to attend each meeting. A project manager was included to develop time lines and to schedule the activities to be completed within an 18-month time frame.
In an effort to draw upon the experiences of others who had previously been involved in reengineering organizations, the Reengineering Task Force subscribed to the theories expressed by Hammer and Champy (1993). …