Department Operations Updates: October 6, 2022

This post includes a summary of recent Dallas County department operations updates relevant, specifically, to members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court.  

Team updates include:

Human Resources

Director: Bob Wilson

Bob Wilson, Director of Human Resources

On August 10, our department launched the “Employee Engagement PULSE Survey” to measure how well Dallas County has moved results to action following the initial employee engagement survey in April.

In April, Dallas County employees participated in the employee engagement survey. On June 6, we announced the findings and learned of the employees’ thoughts and experiences at work. As this was Dallas County’s first engagement survey, we focused on one key driver of employee engagement, communication. Our managers were encouraged to work with their teams utilizing the ACT model: Acknowledge where we are; Collaborate on where we want to go; Take one step forward. This was an opportunity for the team to give each other feedback, collaborate on solutions, and commit to small changes that would ultimately improve the employee experience at work.

On August 10, 2022, Dallas County employees received a follow-up survey titled “Employee Engagement PULSE Survey” to essentially measure how well Dallas County moved results to action. The results of the survey demonstrated that Dallas County’s managers continue to have opportunities to improve our communication. Going forward, we will set a plan and establish goals with our teams to improve employee engagement.    

This challenges Dallas County to rethink how we can better move results to action and make a long-term positive impact on our employees.  On a positive note, the PULSE survey did indicate 69% of the total survey respondents chose to remain neutral; moving forward, gaining their support is part of our challenge.

Human Resources introduced a temporary manual approach to deliver fair, periodic employee performance appraisals as we await the implementation of our Oracle fusion performance management tool in April 2023.

Dallas County recognizes the importance of enhancing our employee’s performance and integrating our strategic mission, vision, and core values.  On September 16, we introduced a manual approach to the performance appraisal process for October 1, 2022, through January 31, 2023, including training video, guidelines, and appraisal forms.  Our T&D team is offering virtual training sessions via the DC training portal for managers and employees who wish to take advantage of this opportunity. 

Human Resources employee Shirley Johnson was featured on the “Life in the Leadership Lane” podcast.

On July 30, Shirley Johnson participated in a podcast hosted by Bruce Waller that focuses on human resources leaders who are making a difference in the workplace and in their community. During the podcast, Shirley talked about how she became an HR professional and how she differentiates between opportunities and obstacles.

In addition to working for Dallas County Human Resources, Shirley is also the 2022 Conference Director for the HRSouthwest Conference. The HR Southwest Conference is part of DallasHR and is one of the largest regional education and networking events for HR professionals. This year’s conference will be held in Fort Worth on October 16-19.

Participation in Dallas County’s required training increased 148%.

At Dallas County, we currently have two required training classes for all employees. “Prevention of Discrimination Harassment and Retaliation in the Workplace: Recharting the Course,” communicates Dallas County’s policy regarding workplace harassment and action plans to prevent its occurrence. “Turning Unconscious Bias into Conscious Thought is another required training workshop that focuses on identifying the most common forms of biases that might unfavorably affect decision-making at the workplace and teaches the skills to address them effectively.

If you have not yet enrolled in the training, reach out to the HR Training and Development Team today. Also, look for the bi-weekly HR Training Nuggets for more excellent learning content that could help improve your knowledge, skills, and abilities.

Our department celebrates new hires and well-deserved promotions.

Please join us in welcoming our new hires: Ericka Thomas (HR Analyst IV), Tricia Almarales (HR Analyst III), Thomas Rodriguez (HR Tech II), Emmanuel Jones (Fitness Supervisor), Jamel Jackson (Fitness Specialist), and Samantha Olivares (Fitness Specialist). They have been doing an excellent job in their assigned tasks, with their progress genuinely inspiring.

Also, we celebrate Gloria Rivera’s new promotion to the HR Analyst V, Gwendolyn McGraw to HR Analyst III, Brandon Pettigrew to HR Analyst III, Lisa Quirino to HR Analyst II, and Ashley Smith to HR Analyst I. They have worked hard and deserve recognition and promotion.

Health and Human Services

Director: Dr. Philip Huang

Dr. Philip Huang, Director of the Health and Human Services Department and the Health Authority for Dallas County

Dallas County Health and Human Services (DCHHS) partnered with federal, state, and local agencies to ensure a proper response to the monkeypox outbreak, including contact tracing, case investigation, vaccination, and education and outreach efforts.

DCHHS reported the first monkeypox case early this summer. As cases increased, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins declared monkeypox a public health emergency seeking to slow down the spread of the virus and allocate more resources for the monkeypox response.

DCHHS staff leveraged the technology and infrastructure developed during COVID to quickly respond to this new public health issue. DCHHS created a monkeypox website to share facts about the virus, testing, and vaccination eligibility criteria. DCHHS also created flyers in both English and Spanish and posted content on social media and partnered with multiple LGBT+ community organizations to distribute the latest news and updates about the virus and vaccine.  

DCHHS is also coordinating access to treatment for Dallas County providers. Healthcare providers may provide tecovirimat (TPOXX) treatment to patients with monkeypox under the Expanded Access Investigational New Drug (EA-IND). DCHHS is providing TPOXX to physicians and pharmacists upon request from the strategic national stockpile medication cache we have at DCHHS.

As the vaccine became available, DCHHS opened a drive-thru site at DCHHS headquarters and over 5,000 residents have received the monkeypox vaccine at this location. To increase vaccine availability DCHHS also distributed the vaccine to several providers across the county, including Prism Health, Abounding Prosperity, Center for Health Empowerment (CHE), AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), Nomi Health (Ellis Davis), and Parkland.

DCHHS is hosting community pop-up vaccination clinics in partnership with local LGBTQ+ community-based organizations and businesses to ensure that the monkeypox vaccine is accessible to the community.

This summer, DCHHS’ Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provided free emergency A/C window units to hundreds of residents in Dallas County to combat the grueling record-setting temperatures in our area.

The goal of the program is to reduce household energy usage, address health and safety needs, and to offer minor home repairs through the installation of approved weatherization materials. The program gives priority to the elderly, disabled, and families with children under five.

The Weatherization Assistance Program also recently received the Atmos Energy Keeping the Warmth Program (KTW) Grant, which will provide an additional $2,500 in support for Atmos Energy customers when WAP provides weatherization services. 

Key program achievements include:

  • Over 360 A/C window units installed.
  • 232 households have received weatherization assistance.
  • 350 projects will be completed by the end of 2022.

The following local news stories highlighted these efforts:

DCHHS is offering free Lunch and Learn online sessions aimed to improve the health and nutrition habits of every resident.

The Lunch and Learn program is focused on improving the quality of life of residents by providing information on diabetes, obesity prevention and other chronic diseases. Sonal Patel, DCHHS Registered Dietitian, leads these free virtual classes on DCHHS’s social media channels. The online classes take place every other Friday at noon. The online sessions allow people to log in during their lunch break to learn more about eating healthy and to ask questions about their nutrition.

Patel offered these classes targeting Dallas County employees via Microsoft Teams but later transitioned to Facebook live to reach a wider audience. As a result, hundreds of people are now learning how to make healthier choices while interacting with our Registered Dietitian.

The Lunch and Learn sessions include:

  • Reducing Added Sugar Intake
  • The Role of Diet on Blood Pressure
  • Nutrition Label Reading
  • Eating the Rainbow (more fruits and vegetables)


Director: Michael Scarpello

Michael Scarpello, Elections Administrator

Our department remains committed to conducting reliable elections and to accurately maintaining voter registration records for Dallas County citizens.

In addition to upholding the laws, policies and court decisions of federal, state and local jurisdictions, our department is responsible for the following: 

  • Community Outreach and Voter Education
  • Voter Registration Records
  • Voting Site Management and Poll Worker Training
  • Ballot by Mail Management
  • Warehouse and Logistics Management
  • Election Equipment Management

Our department welcomed three new employees in August 2022.

  • Kyle Rush, Elections Supervisor
  • Richard Badgett, Hardware Manager
  • Petra Laird, Elections Analyst

Our department continues to prepare for the upcoming November 8, 2022, General Election.

Poll worker training began on September 21 with significant changes made to improve training videos and materials. We have made substantial changes to vote centers by creating and implementing better signage including instructional standing banners and feather flags to improve the voting experience.   

Election’s GIS team has continued improving its phone and desktop-friendly web application to not only allow Dallas County voters to route themselves to their most convenient voting location but will now allow voters to check the wait time for each polling location. Our communications team is working with local advertising agency Alpha Business Images (ABI) to create and implement a voting awareness campaign aimed at informing Dallas County voters on times, dates, and ways to vote in the November 8 General Election. This campaign will include local radio and television ads as well as digital ads on streaming and social media platforms.

Dallas County Election Department’s new training and warehouse facility at 1460 Round Table Drive has opened and has already seen a record class size of 69 trainees.

Classes this large were not possible in our previous training facility. This new facility will also serve as the main Early Voting and Election Day vote center in future elections.

Our department continues to register new voters and reach out to the community through the Volunteer Deputy Registrar Program and our dedicated community partners.

  • Our department has conducted 36 Volunteer Deputy Registration (VDR) trainings so far this year and currently has 3,031 deputized VDRs.
  • Our department conducted several successful voter registration drives including a Drive-Thru Voter Registration Event to celebrate National Voter Registration Day on September 20 at our new facility.

Budget and Evaluation

Director: Dr. Ronica Watkins

Dr. Ronica Watkins, Budget Officer

FY2023 budget and tax rate was adopted, as our office remains committed to developing a fiscally sound budget, which requires a complex balance of needs and services.

Dallas County’s new fiscal year begins on October 1, after Commissioners Court adopted the FY2023 budget and tax rate on September 9. Dallas County’s FY2023 budget has been developed during the continued recovery of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the continued weight of Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) while facing challenges in retention, hiring, and rising jail population. SB 2 reduced the cap on the tax rate increase that the Commissioners Court can consider without voter approval to no more than 3.5%. This limitation on local control with the passing of SB 2 requires Dallas County to think creatively and strategically as we address the needs of our residents.

The FY2023 budget was developed with Commissioners Court priorities in mind, along with addressing increased need in certain areas, which include the following:

  1. All salary structures and incumbent’s salaries will increase by 3%, effective January 2023.
  2. Law enforcement personnel will receive step-increases when eligible.
  3. Human Resources recruitment program that includes childcare stipend and referral program.
  4. Conducting a market study to survey approximately 406 positions
  5. The addition of eight positions to address unfunded mandates.
  6. An increase in the Sheriff’s budget to address increased jail population and pricing in commodities.
  7. Continued funding for Auto Service to increase our electric vehicle fleet.

Budget Cost Containment:

  • As part of the FY2023 budget, a vacant position reserve department was approved to establish a pool of vacant positions that may be repurposed.
  • Continuation of a 90-day rolling hiring freeze for FY2023.
  • Limiting discretionary travel unless expended through grants, department-controlled funds or Discretionary Departmental Funds (DDA).
  • Continuation of promoting virtual or in-person conferences during FY2023, as more virtual options are offered.

Dallas County continues to maintain a conservative tax rate, and the FY2023 recommended tax rate is the lowest it has been since FY2011.

In line with this 3.5% cap, Commissioners Court adopted a $0.217946 tax rate, which is one penny less than last year’s tax rate of $0.227946. In addition, Dallas County Commissioners approved a homestead exemption increase from $69,000 to $100,000 for seniors 65 or older and disabled County residents. The last time the exemption was updated was in August 2007.

The Office of Budget and Evaluation continues to utilize OpenGov in innovative ways and aim for transparency in Dallas County’s budget.

The Office of Budget and Evaluation strives to provide information to Dallas County constituents for transparency and accountability. We have added OpenGov stories to our webpage so citizens can navigate our budget and expenditures, as well as review frequently asked questions. Our OpenGov stories can be found here.

The Office of Budget and Evaluation welcomed two new members of the team, Bryant Jackson and Nate Dears.

Bryant Jackson joined our office as Budget & Policy Analyst in June but has been working with us since May assisting with our judicial management report. He joins us after serving almost a year with the Dallas County ARP Team. Bryant is a graduate of the North Texas MPA program, and his current portfolio of departments includes the Sheriff’s Office, Public Defender, and Juvenile Justice.

Bryant Jackson

Nate Dears joined our office as its new Grant Coordinator in September. He comes to Dallas County with extensive grant experience and is a graduate of the University of North Texas MPA program. We’re excited to have Nate on board to assist our office and Dallas County with grant requests, tracking County grants, and assisting with department grant needs.

Nate Dears

Information Technology

Director: Melissa Kraft

Melissa Kraft, Chief Information Officer of the Office of Information Technology

To ensure that Dallas County departments’ applications are always up and running, Information Technology is moving into a new modern datacenter with more power and room to grow.

Information Technology leverages two datacenters for running Dallas County’s applications. 

Dallas County IT is currently going through the process of relocating all gear and applications from our oldest datacenter into a more modern facility. Our oldest datacenter is constrained for space and power, limiting our ability to expand systems and support newer technologies. Our newest datacenter is a more modern facility with abundant space and power for growth. We have begun moving some applications and hardware between the old and new facilities, and over the next few months you will be seeing more of those moves discussed in email notifications. The oldest datacenter will be completely vacated within the next few months.

IT is working to set up the datacenters so that they can provide redundancy and keep Dallas County’s applications up and running even during a datacenter failure.

IT welcomes our new Court Technology Manager Ashley Arnold.

Ashley has nearly 14 years of experience in county government, having served in various roles across Johnson and Dallas Counties, from the Johnson County Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, to the Dallas County Clerk’s Probate Division, and finally to the Office of Information Technology where she last served as a Continuous Improvement Agent.  Ashley holds a Master of Science in business analytics from Texas A&M University – Commerce, and a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Texas at Arlington. 

The newly formed IT Court Technology Team’s purpose is to assist the Dallas County Courts and departments in achieving their strategic goals through use of secure, reliable, and modern technologies in a collaborative, user-friendly manner. 

The team’s goals are to:

  • Drive business value into the Courts using innovative technology solutions
  • Improve ability to meet the Courts’ business goals, resulting in more satisfied stakeholders
  • Enhance ability to execute business activities to meet the Courts’ IT related requirements and expectations

In partnership with Health and Human Services, IT will soon complete the Epic Project.

The Health and Human Services (HHS) Parkland Epic Electronic Health Records project, which began two years ago in September 2020, is approaching completion. This project will allow HHS to better serve their patients by leveraging Parkland’s Epic Electronic Medical Records (EMR) through Community Connect. 

Community Connect will allow Parkland and HHS to share electronic medical records which will provide numerous benefits, including:

  • More informed patient care
  • Reduced costs
  • Greater access to technology
  • Increased efficiency
  • Future health data analytic opportunities
  • Integration with the internal lab information system
  • Integration with external labs

The project, which has been divided into two phases, will ultimately make Parkland’s Epic system available to the following 15 HHS locations and one program:

  • SHC – Sexual Health Clinic
  • DIS – Disease Intervention Specialists
  • Employee Health Clinic
  • Immunizations Clinic Stemmons
  • North Dallas Immunization Clinic
  • Farmer’s Branch Immunization Clinic
  • Grand Prairie Immunization Clinic
  • John West Immunization Clinic
  • Jefferson Immunization Clinic
  • Irving Immunization Clinic
  • International Travel/Adult SafetyNet
  • Communicable Disease
  • Public Health Preparedness (Strategic National Stockpile [SNS] Program)
  • Refugee Clinic
  • Tuberculosis Clinic
  • Dallas County Lab

Phase I of the project is already complete and included a go-live of the following clinics:

  • SHC – Sexual Health Clinic
  • Refugee Clinic
  • Tuberculosis Clinic

IT is approaching go-live with Odyssey Case Manager.

We are on the last stretch and are scheduled to go live with Odyssey Case Manager on October 31. In preparation for the go-live, training will continue to be conducted through the end of October. All JP Courts and five JP Judges are signed up to complete Odyssey Case Manager training during October.