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Reed Hollinshead
ITD Office of Communication
(208) 334-8881

Exceeding expectations, ITD named Innovative Company of Year finalist

BOISE - State agencies are not typically described as creative, dynamic and customer-focused. Defying that perception, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) was recently named a finalist for Idaho Innovative Company of the Year by the Idaho Technology Council. ITD is the first public-service state agency ever to be a finalist.

ITD is one of three finalists. The winner will be announced Oct. 25 in Boise.

"It is a notable accomplishment by a state agency competing in a private-sector arena," said ITD Chief Administrative Officer Charlene McArthur.

Spurred by Director Brian Ness’ vision to operate more like a business, and motivated by an annual funding shortfall in the hundred of millions, in 2014 the department launched a strategy to engage employees to find solutions to everyday problems. The centerpiece of this innovation strategy is an employee-driven effort called “Innovate ITD."

Rather than rely on the brainpower of a select group of leadership-level people, ITD is harnessing the creativity of all 1,600 employees statewide. Employees at every level are encouraged to submit ideas for time and money savings and making processes more efficient. But this is not just an old-fashioned suggestion box. Employees work to implement the best ideas that have a measurable impact.

The results: 405 ideas for improvement have been implemented statewide. Savings and efficiency improvements amounting to $2 million have stretched the money that can be applied to Idaho roads, bridges and delivering improved transportation services. ITD employee-initiated and reported innovations have also saved more than 66,000 labor hours of contractor and employee time across the state. Of the reported innovations, nearly 150 are customer-service improvements. Since ITD’s ultimate customer is every one of the Gem State’s more than 1.1 million drivers, the ultimate winner is the Idaho taxpayer.

“Innovation is the most constructive way to change and get better. We do not reject ideas, but empower employees to look for innovation in all we do, from basic process improvements to the most creative ideas,” said Ness.

“I think ITD stood out in the mind of the judges because what we are doing — innovating at the roots of the organization — are things that many in private industry are striving to achieve,” McArthur explained. “As a state agency, we are supposedly handcuffed by regulations, policies and compensation caps, yet we are still able to inspire and engage with a workforce determined to deliver the maximum value to our stakeholders and customers.”

“The recognition for ITD communicates to all ITD employees and future prospects the nature of the ITD of today — we are forward-thinking, adaptive, achievers who value collaborative and motivated employees willing to solve challenging problems and continuously improve our performance. We will retain and attract thinkers and doers who create a culture that makes ITD the employer of choice.

"Secondly, it validates the course Director Ness and the transportation board launched us on six years ago to make ITD perform more like a business than a government agency. We are focused on performance outcomes and our direct impact on ensuring safety, mobility and economic opportunity.”