Pursuing a Vision: Nebraska's Center of Operational Excellence

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NASCA, Public Sector, Innovation, Shared Services, Leading Change, Human Capital, Culture Change, Change Management, Optimized Enterprise, Agile Workforce, Evidence-Based Organization

Learning Objective

This case study explores the leadership challenges aligning political actors, working across agencies, measuring progress and return on investment, scaling innovations, and establishing long-lasting systems and structures.


Early in his tenure, Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts established process improvement as a key strategy to “create a more effective, more efficient, and more customer-focused state government.” To achieve this, state leaders first evaluated state models from around the country to help introduce more sustainable change that would help grow Nebraska. This led to the launch of a Center of Operational Excellence (COE) within the Department of Administrative Services, which has already trained over 12,000 employees, completed over 245 projects, saved over 290,000 verifiable hours, and had a significant impact on services to Nebraska’s citizens. This case study examines these efforts, and steps COE took to establish a new operating model, hire and train new staff, generate buy-in, and navigate competing priorities. It also examines how the team aligned political actors, fostered a collaborative atmosphere working across agencies, measured progress and public value, brought innovations to scale, and put structures in place to sustain progress.

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