2006 – Idaho Department of Health and Welfare
Recognized for its formation of a Rules Unit to streamline and coordinate its rulemaking process. The Rules Unit has done an effective job in cutting costs, simplifying procedures, and producing well-written rules for the department.
2014 Where are they now? [Presented at the 2014 Winter Meeting]
Thank you for the opportunity to provide a little follow-up on our rules unit, which is now coming up on 12 years of operation. And, yes, the Colborn Award is still proudly displayed in our office. It was with deep regret that we learned of the passing of Bob Colborn, this past year. Thank you, again, Dennis Stevenson and ACR for recognizing our efforts in the field of administrative rulemaking.
In the years since receiving the award back in 2006, we have undergone many changes. Our overall business model remains essentially the same – our unit (the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s Administrative Rules Unit) still coordinates all the rulemaking activities of our Department. We work with subject matter experts across the Department’s many programs to amend existing rules, write new rules, and repeal old ones that have become obsolete. We maintain over 1800 pages of administrative code, divided up into 80 chapters. Our rulemakings are published online monthly in the Idaho Administrative Bulletin, a publication of Idaho’s Office of the Administrative Rules Coordinator, headed up most ably and amiably by Dennis Stevenson. Every January, all the rule dockets we’ve worked on over the preceding year go before the Idaho Legislature for review and approval. This legislative review is somewhat unique to Idaho and provides our state legislature with a high level of direct oversight of the administrative rules for all the state agencies. In this way, legislators can assure that the legislative intent of the laws they’ve passed is fully realized in the content of the rules authorized by those laws.
Over the last few years, we have lost administrative support staff as well as one of our original three rules specialists due to a series of budget cuts. Our loss has been Montana’s gain, as Ken Mordan has gone on to serve as the Administrative Rules Coordinator for Montana’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. As a result of these staff cuts, we have been forced to streamline our processes and have moved from a paper review and approval process to an electronic review and approval system that uses e-mail combined with our enterprise-wide SharePoint site. We are not quite paperless yet, but are moving in that direction.
In our early years, we relied on Dennis and his hard-working staff, Ed Hawley and Brad Hunt, to provide training in the rules promulgation process and explain the ins and outs of Idaho’s Administrative Procedure Act. In more recent years, we have taken over this task and now provide annual training to Department staff who are involved with rule changes. In addition to writing rules and shepherding them through the year-long promulgation process all the way to presentation before the legislature, we have also become more involved with supporting the development of proposed legislation and providing legislative presentation training to Department staff who will present to the Health and Welfare germane committees in the Idaho legislature. In addition to the annual trainings we offer, we have also developed online tutorials to guide staff through the year-long processes of rulemaking and developing proposed legislation.
Again, thank for your interest and please give my greetings (and those of Bev Barr, my fellow rule writer) to all of our ACR friends and colleagues. We regret we’ve been unable to attend conferences in recent years. We have missed the camaraderie and support of our fellow rules types, as well as Scott Cancelosi’s sense of humor.
I think it is a great idea to follow-up on the past Colborn Award recipients. I would add that I believe the Rules Unit was one of the best things to happen for the rules process in Idaho. It was an honor and a pleasure to have worked with you, Bev, and Dennis and his staff. I too have not been able to attend any of the national conferences due to budget restrictions but follow closely the e-mails and other information sent out to ARC members.
I would also like to add that the process that was sent up in Idaho has helped me greatly in my job here in Montana as the Rules Coordinator for the Department of Public Health and Human Services. Like your Department in Idaho, our Department writes and publishes the majority of rules for the State of Montana. We keep our Secretary of State’s office very busy. When I took over this position three years ago, the Director of our Department was looking for someone to streamline and set up one consistent process, improve the quality of rules, and have a central person to coordinate all of the Department’s rules. I have been able to accomplish those tasks thanks to many of the ideas implemented by the Rules Unit in Idaho. I wish I had another person helping me but it is a one person job here and keeps me very busy. I believe that the process in Idaho could be used as a model for any Department of a state that needed to improve their rules process.
I also pass on my greetings to those members of the ACR that I met while at the conference in Grand Rapids several years ago. It was a great experience that still helps me today.
Administrative Rules Specialist
Office of Legal Affairs – DPHHS
111 Sanders, Room 210
PO Box 4210 Helena, MT 59604-4210
Phone: (406) 444-4094 FAX: (406) 444-9744