With Transparency Comes Integrity
For many of us, a New Year brings new reflection. Am I doing everything I can for my health? How can I improve my financial outlook? Am I providing my family with the resources they need? How can I be more organized?
Organizations like Rocky Mountain Human Services (RMHS) do the same evaluation. Are we doing all that we can to address community needs? Are we meeting the expectations of the community and our funders? Is the organization on solid footing to withstand the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities before us? Do our employees have what they need to be successful in their roles?
RMHS is continuously taking part in internal and external assessments. In fact, it’s hard to think of a time when we were not undergoing an assessment from at least one of our funders or an external agency.
Most recently, the Colorado Office of the State Auditor released its performance audit of the state’s 20 community-centered boards (CCBs). RMHS is one of the CCBs the state audited.
Audits can sometimes be challenging and time-consuming, and they are rarely comfortable. This audit was no exception. After a year of working with the state auditors, their work revealed that during a time period beginning over two years ago, RMHS did not always meet expectations in the ways we provided and billed for some case management services.
RMHS appreciates the state’s thorough and comprehensive audit. We hope it will result in improved services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We also expect it to lead to efficiencies and oversight that will help to ensure taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly and as intended.
Over the past few years, RMHS has made continuous improvements to the way we provide and bill for services. We are driven to make improvements not only because of the importance of compliance, but also to serve clients better and be more fiscally responsible. We have revised and created written policies and procedures, conducted numerous trainings, implemented new supervisory oversight practices, and made changes to software.
In December, the audit revealed that we focused on improving the right things, because we were well on our way to correcting most of the audit’s findings before the findings were released. We look forward to continuing our work internally and with the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing to address the audit’s recommendations and continue to improve what we do.
A Necessary Push for Transparency
The audit was the result of transparency legislation passed in 2016 that required that all CCBs be subject to a state performance audit. It promoted the need for transparency between CCBs and the communities they serve.
At RMHS, we strive to meet five key values – Respect, Integrity, Courage, Excellence and dynamism. Integrity, in particular, is only possible through transparency. The people who choose us for services deserve honesty and accountability and the assurance that we are working alongside them to achieve their goals.
The transparency legislation in 2016 challenged us to open up our organization to the public in ways that most nonprofits don’t. And we welcomed that challenge.
Since 2016, we have:
Opened our Board meetings to the public.
Posted our contracts, financial information, and Board agendas and minutes on our website.
Made our leadership, including the Board of Directors and Executive Team, more accessible.
Established a Community Advisory Council made up of clients, family members, providers and other community partners who provide input, ideas and feedback to the organization on an ongoing basis.
Met with and communicated regularly with community leaders, including the Denver City Council.
Held numerous community meetings to engage stakeholders in ways to improve what we do.
Increased our communications through regular newsletters and social media.
It hasn’t always been easy. At times, we struggle to balance transparency with efficiency to remain flexible and responsive to the people we serve. We always weigh our actions with the need to inform and gather feedback from stakeholders.
Value in Relationships
What we’ve learned most since 2016 is how transparency makes RMHS better. We have developed meaningful relationships with individuals, families, funders, elected officials and providers. We now know that many community members appreciate what we do and are willing to help us improve. We also know that community involvement is most effective when we can brainstorm openly and listen to each other with mutual respect about the opportunities and challenges in front of us.
RMHS is only as strong as the community it serves. We ask you to continue to tell us when we can be more open and offer your ideas for making our services better. You will help us create inclusive communities that empower people with the resources they need to achieve their goals.
Best wishes for a happy New Year!
Rocky Mountain Human Services