Texas Department of Families and Protective Services Commissioner John Specia Address to Staff Regarding The Stephen Group Comprehensive Assessment of Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protection Services Operations

“We hired The Stephen Group to come in and take a very deep dive into CPS operations, to take a really hard look at what we're doing right, what we're not doing right, and how can we make this organization better. Their review was comprehensive and identified significant issues we need to address. I want to thank The Stephen Group for all of its great work. I wanted somebody to give us a deep dive and look at root causes and I think that is what we have now. We have something that digs deep and it just doesn't give the easy answers of what's wrong with CPS and it gives us a road map. We're going to have a business plan and we're going to say we're going to accomplish this, this, this…this year.”

-John Specia, Commissioner Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

"The Stephen Group has brought national, real-world, expertise in a multitude of issues ranging from child protection best practices, workforce issues, data and analytics and research. The Stephen Group team has a depth and width of knowledge in health and human services."

-Katie Olse, Assistant Commissioner, Texas Department of Family and Protective Services

Annie E. Casey Foundation

"The Stephen Group assisted us in developing our own plan for re-organization and alignment with Families First. They provided us with important guidance, support and technical assistance, to include:

  • Project Management with ongoing communication including bi-weekly status reports
  • Engagement of staff through meetings, focus groups and interviews
  • Interim and final reports
  • Presentations to project leadership, foundation leadership, all three CSI units
  • Roadmap for implementation
  • Ongoing implementation support

From the outset, The Stephen Group proved itself to a strong and trusted partner, working with leadership to plan the project and communication to the CSI units. It was important to me that this effort engage the staff at all levels. The Stephen Group was efficient and effective in engaging staff, identifying opportunities for re-engineering and connections as well as overlap.  They were highly adaptive and responsive to any request we made.   In fact, The Stephen Group has been further engaged on other projects within the foundation."

- Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, Vice President, Center for Systems Innovation, Annie E. Casey Foundation


"John Stephen and his staff did a commendable job in reviewing the current status of our Medicaid program and presenting options for reform as we debate the future of Medicaid in Arkansas."

-Asa Hutchinson, Governor of Arkansas

"People say we ought to run government more like a business," said Hendren, who also is president of a plastics company. "Well, when you have a tough decision to make in business on a subject you don't know, you hire the best analyst you can to look at all the facts. That's what we did."

-Senator James Hendren, Co-Chairman, Arkansas Legislative Health Care Reform Task Force

Maine Cost Efficiency Report and Analysis Identifying Additional Budget savings initiatives for Governor’s Office of Policy Management

“I am impressed with the broad range of service areas you reviewed and the specific action oriented nature of the recommendations you included in the report. ‘Thank you for bringing your highly skilled and professional associates to Maine. This report is received as a serious plan, intended to help our State confront the funding and management challenges of delivering high quality services to our fellow citizens in greatest need. Thank you."

-Richard Rosen, Director, Maine Governor’s Office of Policy Management

Project Management and Strategy Design for State of Florida Child Welfare Transformation Project

“Thank you for arranging the complementary expertise of Dr. Will Oliver and John Stephen to poise the Department of Children and Families Child Protection Transformation Initiative for success. I appreciate the how quickly and competently they teamed together to prepare my staff with a strategic plan to launch this priority project. It was extremely beneficial for us to have them on site for several months to help organize our Executive Steering Committee and assist staff in the preparation of work product that will be used in teaming with community partners and the legislature.”

-David Wilkins, Secretary of Florida Department of Children and Families


The Stephen Group completed Social Services Fraud Recovery Assessment for the State of Florida and identified over $125 Million in savings opportunities

“I would like to thank your team for your diligence and expertise with this project. I believe with your team’s recommendations we are headed in the right direction in becoming a world class organization. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such an excellent group of individuals within The Stephen Group team.”

-Sheri M Lynn, Chief of Benefit Recovery, Office of Public Benefits Recovery, State of Florida Department of Children and Families

State of Florida Department of Children and Families Child Protection Transformation Project

An effort to transform and improve children’s health and well-being in Florida and develop the strategic initiatives to transform the state’s child welfare agency into a world class child welfare agency.

"John and Will provided excellent consultation on the many complex and time sensitive products required for the DCF Child Protection Transformation Initiative. This project required a variety of key deliverables, including an overall communications plan, legislative strategy, budget development, ROI analysis and setting the stage for change management. Without fail, any request made to produce and present materials in support of the overall goal of improving the protection of children who are alleged to be abused or neglected, was completed professionally, on point and on time. John and Will developed a sound fiscal analysis of the taxpayer savings to be achieved through the financial investment in the workforce. They prepared a crisp ten-page strategic plan that was used during the legislative session to serve as the foundation for explaining today's crisis in the protection of children. Our agency achieved our goal of legislative support and ultimately governor's approval for our budget requests. John and Will poised us to advance our agenda and prepare for execution of our next stage in the evolution of transforming the system for protection of children."

-Patricia Badland, Department of Children and Families, Director of Operations, Project Director for Child Protection Transformation Initiative

South Carolina

An assessment of the entire state of South Carolina Long Term Care Medicaid program and recommendations on solutions to improve the quality of care by establishing best practices and significantly increases taxpayer savings.

"I served as project manager directly supervising The Stephen Group's work for the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (SCDHHS), the state Medicais agency. John Stephen, Richard Kellogg ( formally of the Lucas Group, now with The Stephen Group) performed a thorough analysis of the long term care system in South Carolina and made recommendations to assist the Department in the development of a strategic vision and high level plan to rebalance long term care in South Carolina. They also researched other states that have had success in rebalancing their long term care systems and integrated these examples into the final recommendations to SCDHHS. The respondents conducted a comprehensive assessment of South Carolina's long term continuum including skill nursing facility utilization, community long term care, as well as home and community based services. A final report was issued and posted on the SCDHHS website. As consultants, they worked extensively with Department staff and with over 100 stakeholders, providers and advocates in collecting information, conducting interviews and researching issues. Additionally, monthly meetings were conducted with SCDHHS to review the progress of the report. All necessary deadlines were met, and all obligations were fulfilled. SCDHHS was not only pleased with the report, but also implemented a number of the recommendations in an effort to rebalance long term care. They were an extremely professional group of people, capable of handling large projects with multiple priorities and complex issues."

-Sam Waldrep, South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Deputy Director for Long Term Care and Behavioral Health Services

South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Employment Workforce Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund Assessment and recommendations on Tax Reform and Departmental Re-organization

“My Department worked closely with John Stephen of The Stephen Group who served as the project lead and oversaw the management of a team that conducted a comprehensive analysis of the SC Unemployment Insurance program, its tax structure and the efficiency of the organization charged with the responsibility of providing benefits to South Carolina unemployed citizens. The work of John and his team was of the highest quality of management consulting services I have seen in my experience in state government. Their clear-headed and forthright analysis and advice illuminated the path for South Carolina to fix its Unemployment Insurance system and provide tax relief to over 90% of small businesses in South Carolina. As a result of this project, South Carolina General Assembly made significant changes to the unemployment structure which will result in restoring the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund in the future and saving employers and taxpayers millions of dollars. Furthermore, most all of the recommendations in their final report relating to changes within the Employment Security Commission organization were enacted in law and have also led to the creation of a cabinet level Department of Employment and Workforce, more effective delivery of services and reduction in fraud, waste and abuse. The project was delivered on budget and on time and led to numerous statutory changes that will save the state millions of dollars. I would highly recommend the management consulting services of John Stephen, Dr. Will Oliver and other members of The Stephen Group team."

-Joe E. Taylor Jr., Secretary South Carolina Department of Commerce

Rhode Island Global Medicaid Waiver

“The work product by John Stephen is significant and was instrumental in helping the State obtain the unprecedented Global Medicaid Waiver. The Waiver provided the state with immediate savings of $7 million in FY 2009, and $16 million in projected savings in FY 2010, through securing additional federal revenue for costs not otherwise matched (CNOMs). Over the five year period, CNOMs will save the State $100 million. In addition, John assisted in securing the $3.5 million information technology planning grant, which has the potential to grow to several million dollars over the agreement.”

“John Stephen’s efforts helped save Rhode Island taxpayers millions of dollars and have given our state more flexibility to manage Medicaid than any other state in the nation. John’s work was an unqualified success and our state is tremendously grateful for his expertise and the results it has delivered.”

-Donald L.Carcieri, Governor of Rhode Island

Illinois Budget

“I want to thank John Stephen of The Stephen Group for all of his tireless efforts in helping us identity over $500 Million in Medicaid savings opportunities during the most difficult budget session of last year. When we needed ideas that would transform the program, bring better quality of care while also protecting the taxpayers, I could think of no expert nationally other than John Stephen to reach out to. Through John’ skillful analysis and artful drafting, I was able to submit legislation that will enhance the social services and Medicaid eligibility verification system for years to come. With John’s assistance, the Department has begun implementing enhanced program integrity solutions that will protect Illinois Taxpayers for many years.”

-Illinois State Representative Patricia Bellock

Government Efficiency and Quality Process

"The work of the Stephen Group has been nothing short of impressive. They have continued to assist Governors and states across this country in finding innovative solutions to bring good and sound government services, while always protecting the interests of taxpayers. The thorough analysis and expertise of the Stephen Group’s senior consultants are constantly providing value to governments and the private sector, with an eye towards government efficiency and quality performance. I have highly recommended their services to states in the past and would not even hesitate to do so again in the future.”

-John H. Sununu, Former NH Governor and Chief of Staff to President George H. Bush

Missouri Department of Health and Human Services

When the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services engaged The Stephen Group’s senior consultant, Dr. Will Oliver, the agency had experienced a 10% across-the-board staffing cut among eligibility workers, along with increase in demand for their services. Morale was down and management looked to Dr. Oliver to find a path forward. In a four-month project, Dr. Will Oliver of The Stephen Group worked closely with the front-line staffs of five offices across the state to document current processes. Employing the unique “Brown Paper” process improvement approach, Dr. Oliver brought teams together to define processes, delay points, opportunities for error, system shortcomings and rework.

The teams were surprised to learn that, individually, they simply did not know the whole process – only through the work of a cross functional work group could they document processes from end to end. They appreciated the chance to air and consider change ideas they had on their minds – many of which proved to be exceptional. Dr. Oliver and his team supported the state teams with facilitation, and a Monte Carlo simulation that allowed the teams to quickly determine the potential impact of recommendations. The teams themselves presented the findings to agency leadership, using the simulation results to demonstrate that their recommendations would reduce time to process eligibility by 40%. When delighted management then launched an implementation program, they were overwhelmed by the positive response –hundreds of workers volunteered to participate in the first pilots within the first few hours.

Dr. Will Oliver of The Stephen Group brought to Missouri more than a report; it created an environment in which the organization was ready and eager to accept the change and participate in making it successful.