July 2, 2012

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Built to Lead

Perhaps no Utah governor in modern memory comes to the office with a broad...Read More

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Article

Derek B. Miller

Chief of Staff to Governor Gary R. Herbert

Steve Gooch

July 2, 2012

Derek Miller has spent his entire career working to increase the efficiency of government. He first got a taste for kaizen-ing public entities after graduating from Brigham Young University with Master of Public Administration and Juris Doctor degrees. He spent several years in Washington D.C. as a management consultant and as legal counsel on Capitol Hill.

“I worked at the nuts-and-bolts, ground level to make government more efficient,” he says. “Finding places where we can trim steps and procedures to make processes run better is key to balancing the budget—both for the state and as a nation.”

That’s not even close to lip service, considering what Miller has accomplished in a relatively short time back in Utah. He was lured away from D.C.’s glitz and tangled web of politics by former Governor Jon M. Huntsman, who asked Miller to head the Utah Department of Commerce in 2005. In the wake of his appointment, Miller realigned the department’s systems and it began posting incredible results: “My team was able to condense the timeframe for processing complicated real estate license applications from five weeks to one day,” he says. “It was a complete process overhaul.”

Now, as Governor Gary R. Herbert’s Chief of Staff, Miller is working to bring a similar increase in efficiency and effectiveness to the wider Utah economic system.

Miller oversees and directs the efforts of the Governor’s cabinet, ensuring that members are focused and working toward the Governor’s goals. “Governor Herbert’s policy is to grow the economy,” says Miller. “A strong economy gives Utahns the ability to determine their own destinies and builds strong families—two critical components of the Governor’s economic plan. My job is to support the Governor on a daily and hourly basis to stay focused on what’s important.”

The Governor’s cabinet, to a very real extent, is where the rubber meets the road. The 22 cabinet members oversee critical offices ranging from agriculture to transportation, and the work they do directly impacts Utah’s economic health. Fortunately, says Miller, the cabinet members are all focused on making the Governor’s priorities a reality for Utah’s citizens.

“A lot of people can talk about things, fewer can write them down, even fewer can execute,” he says. “I think on the execution is where this Governor and this cabinet really succeed.”

At Governor Herbert’s behest, Miller created Utah’s Annual Work Plan, which encompasses the Governor’s vision and economic cornerstones and lays out objectives and action items that will drive the state to meet its annual goals. The plan is a roadmap for the State’s economic progress. Miller meets monthly with the “action officers” who are assigned to each action item to assess their progress and to discover areas where help might be needed.

“You have to continuously improve or you’ll be outdone by your competitors,” says Miller. “That’s what government needs to do to be successful. It’s the execution of the Annual Work Plan that positions Utah as one of the country’s economic leaders.”

Miller’s plan for meeting the Governor’s goals is unique among States—he says he’s unaware of another state having a similar program. Given Utah’s growing reputation for a competitive economy and top rankings in fiscal fitness, it’s clear that Miller’s drive to foster efficiency and effectiveness in the State’s government is bearing sweet fruit.

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