Challenges of Change
The Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) spent time in 2013 evaluating roles, duties, structure, efficiencies and listening to the livestock industry’s input regarding the services provided by the WLSB. As a result of these efforts, the seven-member producer board developed and approved agency guidance documents and made changes to the structure of the agency.
Some of the 2013 Board accomplishments toward clearing up some unnecessarily “fuzzy” things within the agency included their January board work session and industry planning session; an update of the chain of command organizational chart; board member training and strategic planning session; development of Board By-Laws, Director/CEO and State Veterinarian job descriptions; development of an internal communication document; and some staffing changes as a part of agency reorganization. Development of the documents may not sound like much, but since by-laws and job descriptions were previously non-existent, it was a notable accomplishment.
The Board held a discussion during the strategic planning session and produced an updated mission statement we believe captures what the Livestock Board does as a state agency that distinguishes us from any other entity. The new mission statement is, “To represent and serve Wyoming’s livestock industry through protecting livestock health and verifying livestock ownership.”
The WLSB has a staff of dedicated employees – many with numerous years of service. The staff of the Livestock Board is vital to carrying out the mission of the agency and providing the regulatory functions involved in protecting livestock health and verifying livestock ownership. The challenges faced by the Board include recognizing the dedication of the staff and the need to make changes identified during the agency evaluation process. Heraclitus once said, “The only thing that is constant is change.” For an industry and agency that does not like change, embracing change could be compared to hugging a prickly pear cactus.
Agency reorganization recently occurred to adjust staff functions to better meet industry needs, work closer toward the eight to one worker to supervisor ratio and see where efficiency can be gained. As a result of the efficiency evaluation, decisions were made to forfeit the agency’s Homeland Security position. Duties of the position will be distributed amongst other staff as appropriate with the bulk of the duties falling to the staff veterinarians as emergency management for livestock revolves around animal health.
Other changes have been made in the structure of the law enforcement unit. We strongly believe that having livestock law specialists to aid in livestock-related criminal investigations is a crucial component of the WLSB and its efforts to serve and protect the livestock industry. We believe that the investigators are spread thin, but our partnerships with other law enforcement agencies in the state need to continue, and actually, we hope to strengthen these relationships. The investigators are “the experts” in Wyoming livestock law, and we need to utilize this expertise in the most efficient way possible.
As of Oct. 1, the Director/CEO is serving as the administrator for the Law Enforcement Unit. This will allow our four full-time criminal investigators to serve their respective areas and operate as “in-the-field” investigators. Kim Clark, Southwest District investigator, has served as our senior criminal investigator for several years and will lead efforts to enhance education and outreach efforts.
We value the partnerships with local law enforcement officers we have throughout the state. We do not want to diminish these partnerships. The Board and I want to have a clearer understanding of how they are currently working, where partnerships need to be strengthened and how we can be a better resource to the counties in serving the citizens of Wyoming.
Another change is in progress. We continue moving forward with our effort to computerize agency functions. Happy Jack Software from Laramie is the contracted vendor for the project. They are working to gather system requirements and to develop the database structure – the two crucial foundation pieces of the system. A contacts database will be the first step, with the brand record management module following closely. The 2015 brand renewal will be performed using the new system. These changes are exciting and challenging to say the least.
The brand inspection module of the computerization project is slated for later in 2014. It comes with its own set of challenges that we will address cautiously and on a case-by-case basis.