Bicha’s efficiency program C-Stat gets national attention

Author: Joey Bunch - August 23, 2017 - Updated: August 24, 2017

DHS Reggie BichaColorado Department of Human Services executive director Reggie Bicha discussed performance management on some of the state’s toughest issues with Colorado Politics. (Photo by Joey Bunch/Colorado Politics)

Colorado Politics told you in July and now other news sources are taking the word nationwide: C-Stat program is a model that government could learn from.

Reggie Bicha pragmatic’s way of taking on problems at the Department of Human Services is more like a brain bowl for bureaucrats than a bureaucracy. His senior staff and others meet once a week for a lightning round of updates on pending solutions and group-sourcing over new problems for ideas across several departments. Everything is measured against data, not egos.

Last week Government Technology magazine republished a Governing magazine piece titled about Bicha and C-Stat titled, “Colorado’s Data-Driven Approach in Human Services is Helping It Tackle Major Problems; C-Stat has helped Colorado become one of the best states at getting benefits to unemployed and low-income people.”

You can read all about it here.

Writer J.B. Wogan notes:

More than 20 large cities and a handful of counties now have Stat programs. Only a few of them apply the data-driven approach to human services.

One of the pioneers of Stat programs for human services is Reggie Bicha.

The positive attention now is a long way from the situation Bicha inherited when Gov. John Hickenlooper brought him in to fix one of the most broken systems in state government in 2011.

Bicha told Wogan:

“If you go back six to 10 years ago, Colorado was one of the worst performing states in the country when it related to making timely eligibility determinations for food assistance, family cash assistance and Medicaid. It was so bad that when the governor and I came into the office in 2011, we inherited a federal court order directing us to improve the timeliness of these eligibility determinations. When you came in for benefits, you had a 50/50 shot of getting eligibility determined in a timely way. And then if you looked at accuracy, you had worse than a 50/50 shot that you were actually going to get the right benefit that you should have been receiving.

C-Stat itself didn’t fix the problem. What C-Stat did was give us a framework and set a clear goal for helping us dig into what was contributing to our lousy performance for Coloradans in need.”

Bicha told Colorado Politics in July that he has no expectations that he’ll be asked to stay on when Hickenlooper’s last term ends next year. Most new governors bring in their department heads, but he’s hopeful C-Stat will continue.

The KidStat program he started in Wisconsin under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle continued on under Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch

Joey Bunch is the senior political correspondent for Colorado Politics. He has a 31-year career in journalism, including the last 15 in Colorado. He was part of the Denver Post team that won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 and is a two-time Pulitzer finalist. His resume includes covering high school sports, the environment, the casino industry and civil rights in the South, as well as a short stint at CNN.