Serving 633 days as the director of the Arizona Department of Economic Security remains one of my greatest blessings. During 600+ colleague gatherings, I visited all 164 DES sites and engaged over 7,000 wonderful colleagues. Together, we created “The New DES.” We implemented changes that most folks thought were impossible. An audacious vision and goals were pursued. Leadership summits were established. Employee training and recognition were restructured. Untouchable bureaucrats and clique-perpetuating managers were exited. Bullies, racists and sexual harassers were ousted. Fraudsters were arrested. Poor performers were coached up or out. Almost 4,000 colleagues received raises. First-ever DES merit payments were issued in 2015 and 2016. Diversity was celebrated. Bilingual stipends and tuition reimbursement were restored. DES Protective Services was founded after the San Bernardino Terrorist Attack. Expensive contract guards were replaced with DES security certified by the Department of Public Safety. Bureaucratic policies were slashed almost 60 percent. One hundred archaic IT systems would be retired saving taxpayers $200 million by 2022. I replied personally to 10,000 colleague emails. Our DES colleagues felt appreciated, heard, and cared for like never before. Colleagues were energized to be better for our clients and each other. DES colleague positive engagement increased a state-leading 300 percent. Positive DES engagement was 200 percent to 250 percent greater than all large state agencies. Our DES positive engagement (aka “DES MOJO”) raised the overall state employee engagement numbers by an astounding 38 percent.
Despite our state-leading transformation, a political crisis was maliciously manufactured by the liberal press in Maricopa County and self-serving bureaucratic hacks to bleed me publicly and kill me politically. Facts were optional to them. The manufactured crisis was fueled by Machiavellian cunning and political treachery. Ultimately, politics won, Arizona lost!
Be that as it may, I remain grateful for the opportunity to serve Arizona. I heartily thank the thousands of Arizonans who embraced me so warmly, and dared to believe government can and should be different. I am humbled by the 1,000+ DES colleagues who contacted me recently. My humble thanks to DES colleagues in Northwest Arizona. It was an amazing 633 days.