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 DHS News November 2013     


The Policies and Procedures Process Gets an Update 

An important part of the Department of Human Services’ (DHS) continued integration is developing an infrastructure for creating, storing and accessing policies and procedures that will become the standard across the organization. Earlier this year, a policy committee made up of staff from throughout DHS was convened for this purpose.

It is not the objective of this group to write or review policies. Instead they have been looking at how to catalog existing policies and procedures, and also create a process and template to use for new policies moving forward.

While there are already a significant amount of policies and procedures in use throughout DHS, there has never really been a standard definition to differentiate the two terms.  So, the first task of the committee was to define them.

Policy: A declaration of organizational or agency-wide standards of conduct, behavior and professionalism.

Procedure: A step-by-step process by which a policy is implemented and applied in the workplace.

Observing Waste Reduction, for example, is a DHS policy, practiced across the whole agency. How each office implements that policy (where recycling bins are located, best practices for printing long documents) is the procedure.

Based on existing policies and procedures, and assessing the needs of the various DHS Offices, the committee developed templates for each. These new templates are available in the Policies section on the DHS intranet. While existing policies and procedures currently will not be rewritten to fit the templates, they will be when it comes time to review or update them. Moving forward, all new policies will be signed by DHS Director Marc Cherna. Pat Valentine, Executive Director for Integrated Program Services, will sign all procedures.  

It was also decided early on that policies will be uploaded to a document storage system, OnBase. The Office of Administrative and Information Management (AIMS) is currently developing an OnBase platform that will allow for searching of policies by one of several criteria, including policy name, policy category, or keyword. Once completed, a link to the database from the DHS website will allow users to search it. (The County is currently using a similar method for the cataloging and searching of Campaign Finance Reports.) 

While everyone will able to view existing policies and procedures via the web link, certain designees from each Office will also be able to search and upload policies via OnBase. To help determine who has the capability to do this, the policy committee is currently finalizing a flow chart to instruct what the process will be to implement new policies.  Once completed, this flow chart will also be posted in the policies section of the DHS intranet.

Additional updates on the progress of the policy committee will be forthcoming. But for now, any questions regarding the work of the committee can be sent to Sheila Bell, Administrator, Integration Project Management, at Sheila.bell@alleghenycounty.us.



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