Department Operations Updates: March 7, 2023
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:
Health and Human Services
Director: Dr. Philip Huang
In 2022, Dallas County Health and Human Services assisted 14,000 low-income residents with electric and gas payments through its Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP).
The Comprehensive Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) provides energy assistance to help low-income residents pay their electric and gas bills. and is now assisting households with paying their water utility bills. To receive assistance, Dallas County residents must meet income eligibility requirements, and their city must be a participant in the program.
CEAP continues to reach out to the community through applications, flyers/brochures and via email. CEAP also partnered with TXU to identify over 3,000 clients that were affected by COVID-19, and many of those identified received assistance from CEAP.
The DCHHS Immunizations Department and Community Outreach Program are continuing to offer free flu and COVID-19 vaccines to the community through our pop-up clinics hosted at local churches, businesses, and other community-based organizations.
DCHHS is encouraging all residents to stay up to date on their vaccinations to prevent getting sick. This season, in addition to COVID-19 and the flu, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) and other respiratory illnesses cases were extremely high in Dallas County, especially among children. You can read more about the increase in respiratory viruses or view the DCHHS Weekly Influenza Report.
As part of Diabetes Awareness Month, the Chronic Disease Program offered a series of cooking sessions at the DCHHS main building where the public could learn how to cook nutritious meals to help them stay healthy!
These classes included basic nutrition education to help people living with diabetes plan meals. Throughout the year, the Chronic Disease Program also provides cooking classes/demos in the community in collaboration with the North Texas Food Bank (“Cooking Matters”) and at local farmers markets. In 2022, DCHHS offered 28 classes/event with cooking demos and had 739 participants at these events.
DCHHS celebrated World Aids Day on December 1 by providing free HIV/STI testing and screening at our main office.
This year’s theme was “Equalize.” This event was a call to global leaders and citizens to boldly recognize and address the inequalities that are holding back progress in ending AIDS and to equalize access to essential HIV services, particularly for children and key populations and their partners. Special thanks to our community partners, especially our Ryan White and EHE sub-recipients, for supporting and providing services to people living with HIV in our community. Learn more about ways to stop HIV stigma.
DCHHS partnered with Parkland Hospital to provide free COVID-19, Hepatitis A and flu vaccines at the Feast of Sharing community event.
Feast of Sharing is an annual event that brings together the local community to provide a free holiday meal to those in need. Feast of Sharing events have been held in Dallas since 2006 and serve 10,000 to 15,000 residents every year.
The DCHHS Community Outreach Team collaborated with the Dallas Police Department UNIDOS group to deliver Christmas gifts to families in need.
Dallas Police Department UNIDOS reached out to Program Manager Marisa Gonzales, asking if she knew of families in need. Two days before Christmas, the Outreach Team delivered gifts to 18 families who are DCHHS clients and/or patients. As these gifts were delivered, the Outreach Team also provided information about the free programs that DCHHS offers to Dallas County residents. The smiles on these families’ faces were the greatest reward for our DCHHS team!
DCHHS is providing free emergency space heaters to qualified residents as part of the Weatherization Assistance Program.
The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) team was out in the community this January and February delivering portable heaters, and the initiative was featured by NBC5, Univision, and Telemundo. Residents can contact WAP at 214-819-1909. Learn more about the Weatherization Assistance Program.
As part of our 2022 Holiday Canned Food Drive, DCHHS collected approximately 1,700 pounds of food to donate to the North Texas Food Bank! This helped provide over 1,400 meals for families in Dallas County.
This would not have been possible without the generous donations made by all our staff. A special shout out to three departments that really went above and beyond: Thank you to Older Adult Services, PHEP, and Housing!
DCHHS is working to expand our Internship and Fellowship Program.
DCHHS has agreements with over 30 colleges and universities to host interns and fellows, and as of March 1, 2023, DCHHS has over 20 interns/fellows placed in various public health, social services, and administrative programs across the department. We strive to provide the best environment for our interns and fellows so they can grow professionally and make a meaningful contribution to DCHHS. Students interested in gaining work experience with our professional team should submit their resume and area of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director: Melissa Kraft
IT held its first end-of-year IT Value Awards on December 15 during the IT Holiday Party, and 10 winners received awards for demonstrating our department’s values.
- Neville Sears – Collaboration & Continuous Improvement
- Nicole Block – Service Oriented & Accountability
- Silvia Rosales – Transparency & Accountability
- Tami Fletcher – Continuous Improvement & Collaboration
- Kass Khanabadi – Service Oriented & Career Development
- Juan Ramirez – Accountability
- Dia Applewhite – Career Development
- Avinash Manchikalapudi – Service Oriented & Accountability
- Mahesh Shastry – Continuous Improvement & Accountability
- Kul Bishokarma – Accountability & Camaraderie
Congratulations to all our winners and thank you for all you do for Dallas County!
On December 20 IT’s graphic designer, Nicole Block, received the Dallas County Employee of the Year for County Operations Award.
Congratulations to Nicole for the well-deserved recognition of her consistently excellent work and dedication to the organization and its people.
Chief Information Officer Melissa Kraft received a County Executive of the Year Award from the Scoop News Group.
The award was part of the fourth annual LocalSmart Awards, a program that highlights the people and projects making city, county, and municipal government better. Congratulations to Melissa for this impressive achievement!
IT celebrates the birth of Baby Vandan and Baby Maryam!
Senior Server Administrator Viral Purohit and his wife welcomed Vandan Purohit into the world on August 22, 2022. Vandan weighed 6 pounds, 7 ounces and was 19.75 inches long. Congratulations, Viral!
Chief Systems Analyst Mohammed Nazim Feroz and his wife welcomed Maryam Tara Nazim into the world on December 23, 2022. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Feroz on their beautiful bundle of joy!
To meet County and stakeholder needs, a periodic review of requested and upcoming projects will take place to better forecast, leverage, and prioritize IT resources.
Below is the new process that was presented as part of Information Technology Governance Committee in February.
Information Technology celebrates the successful launch of Dallas County Juvenile as part of the TechShare Application Rehosting Project.
Information Technology (IT) went live with the Juvenile software on Saturday, January 21. Despite issues with one integration that took a few days to resolve, the rehosting was a resounding success! IT staff are hard at work testing TechShare Magistration, Indigent Defense, Prosecutor, and the Defense Portal in preparation for the next go-live planned for Sunday, March 5. Thank you to everyone involved for all the hard work.
IT supported the Elections Department during the 2022 General and Joint Election on November 8.
Unofficial totals show over 391,000 constituents voted during the early voting period in person, another 23,000 voted early by mail, and they were joined by 213,000 people on election day. Overall, over 44% of registered voters casted a ballot in this election.
IT was hard at work behind the scenes to ensure a smooth and successful election process and support constituents. Specifically, IT staff:
- Monitored and responded to issues across 450 voting locations.
- Deployed and provided support for over 500 mobile network devices.
- Managed 1,000 cell data lines.
- Deployed 26 field support technicians.
- Configured and deployed approximately 500 mobile phones.
- Managed the data integrations of over 3,000 pollbook devices.
- Implemented interfaces between elections and payroll systems.
- Deployed video surveillance systems and live streaming for the Elections Office.
Director: Michael Scarpello
Our department remains committed to conducting fair, accurate, secure, and transparent 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 five new employees in February.
- Robert Heard, HR & Records Manager
- Denise Gordon, Records Coordinator
- Dan’elle Wilson, Voting Sites Coordinator
- Marley Phillips, Voting Sites Lead
- Richard Badgett, Hardware Manager
Our department continues to prepare for the upcoming May 6 Joint Election.
- The Dallas County Elections Department (DCED) Voting Sites Team is completing onsite surveys for over 500 vote center locations in Dallas County. These in-depth surveys consist of 93 questions focusing on the usability and accessibility of current voting locations in Dallas County.
- Our Training Team is making significant improvements to training videos and other materials as they prepare for poll worker training at the end of March.
- Our Hardware Team finished a five-week project with its vendor Election System & Software (ES&S) to perform preventative maintenance and software upgrades to thousands of pieces of election equipment.
Our department continues to register new voters and reach out to the community through the Volunteer Deputy Registrar Program and our dedicated community partners.
- DCED has conducted 20 Volunteer Deputy Registration (VDR) trainings so far this year, deputizing over 600 Dallas County VDRs.
- DCED has convened the Vote Center Advisory Committee numerous times throughout January, February, and March to review and improve the current vote center plan.
Director: Bob Wilson
The Human Resources team is looking forward to the rollout of the new Oracle Fusion Human Capital Management (HCM) platform, and we are excited about the new features that Oracle will bring to employees.
Each employee will utilize a single sign-on to access Oracle Fusion. Once they are in the system, the employee will have “quick access” for items such as benefits, performance management, and learning management. The platform is personalized with a “Me” tab that will allow employees to navigate all information specific to them.
Four areas within Human Resources will be affected by the rollout:
- Core HR
- Performance Management
- Learning Management
Listed below are some of the highlights that will be beneficial for employees:
- A more automated process with less paper. Employees will be able to upload their documentation.
- An alert button regarding the status of benefits/documentation will be located on the employee’s page.
- Employees will be able to sign up for a full year of classes at one time.
- The platform will have both self-paced and instructor-led classes.
- There will no longer be a portal; everything will be within Oracle Fusion.
- The platform will show completed learning, current learning, and history.
- All courses will be searchable and if the class is not in the catalog, employees can request the class.
- An automated annual performance on your “Me” tab.
- Ability to update and set goals throughout the year.
We are currently rolling out county-wide training for employees on all Oracle Fusion modules covering purchasing, accounts payable, budget, human capital management, learning management, performance and goals, and benefits.
We are looking forward to the future rollout and would like to thank everyone who participate during the User Acceptance Testing (UAT). If you are selected for UAT or training prior to the rollout, we encourage you to participate.
Our department will launch Dallas County’s next employee engagement survey in April.
This is an important opportunity for all Dallas County employees to have a voice. Our goal is to increase last year’s participation rate of 31% to 60% or more, and employees will receive a thank you gift for their participation and feedback.
Our department continues to coordinate and monitor Dallas County’s participation in the 2023 National Association of Counties (NACo) – High-Performance Leadership Academy (HPLA), and we currently have 26 participants attending and awaiting graduation day in April.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) HPLA is an innovative leadership program poised to equip our frontline leaders with the most fundamental leadership skills needed to address the County’s challenges and to deliver results for the community we serve. This program helps shape our leaders to lead a change in our departments, empowers our leaders with skills to drive evidence-based policies and practices, and shifts their mindset from being excellent individual contributors to becoming highly effective and results-driven leaders.
Here is what participants have said about the program:
“The program helps to provide guidance and support in positive organizational leadership. Additionally, it allows the opportunity for creative ideas and suggestions of what’s working and what’s not amongst the cohort throughout different counties.”
“Enhancing my leadership skills, qualities, etc. Learning from others. It has taught me that LEADERSHIP is a serious matter.”
“This leadership class is very professional, informative, and thought-provoking. The lessons help you to think outside of the box and provide answers to difficult situations. I love how the group members in the cohorts work together and recommend in various situations.”
“It has shown me a different way to think in my role, and really the positive mindset has been huge.”
We are excited about this dynamic leadership opportunity for Dallas County employees.
Dallas County employees are taking advantage of the Continuing Education/Self-Education Program.
All eligible Dallas County employees working in departments that report to the Commissioners are allowed to spend up to five hours each workweek engaging in education and development as an employee benefit.
Dallas County employees are demonstrating how much they value the professional and personal development Dallas County has provided, as many now have the opportunity to enhance their skills by continuing their professional development, occupational certification, professional licensure, or completing their degree plans.
A few employees shared their thoughts and experiences with the program:
“It feels good to work for an organization that supports continued education. The investment of allowing employees an opportunity to spend time during their work week to engage in continued education as a benefit shows that they care about the success of their employees. Having this foundation is valuable to an employee’s professional growth, increased network, and innovation by keeping your mind active and healthy with new ways of thinking.”
—Erica McDaniel, M.S. Justice Administration
“As a new member of the HR team, I am aware that there are still areas in which I need to become extremely proficient to work effectively and efficiently execute my responsibilities. The Continuing Education Program allows me to learn more about leave of absence and understand how Job Leave may connect with employee relations by becoming a certified leave management specialist.” —Tricia Almarales, HR Department
“I am currently in my first term as a doctoral student at Baylor University. The Continuing Education/Self-Development Program has positively impacted/supported my academic goals, by allotting time for group projects, studying, class time, and countless hours of writing. My degree program, Learning and Organizational Change, provides the theoretical framework to develop world leaders. The curriculum supports innovation, mastering fundamental principles of leadership, understanding large infrastructures, and unpacking ideological concepts – all of which will support progressive change within my professional practice. I am 100% thankful for Dallas County positioning continuing education as a priority.” —Akua Cosby, Pretrial Services Department
Our department is cultivating Dallas County core values in the workplace by making them part of an employee’s everyday job performance.
Professionalism, customer focus, diversity, and inclusion will be part of an employee’s performance appraisal rating assessment. We have added these three core value topics to our annual training curriculum and strongly believe in encouraging our employees to explore these topics to help increase awareness, understanding, and positive outcomes in the workplace.
Our department encourages those thinking about retirement to review their Dallas County retiree health plan policies before they retire.
Dallas County offers retiree health benefits, but retiree health benefits cost more than active employee coverage. Enrollment cannot be retroactive, and you are responsible for enrolling on time.
As an active employee, if you chose to opt out of your medical plan before you retire, you are not eligible for medical plan coverage as a retiree. Likewise, if you did not have dental or vision coverage as an active employee, you cannot elect dental or vision coverage as a retiree.
However, if you experience a qualifying event, you may be able to add your dependents if the paperwork is submitted on time. If your change form is not submitted within 30 days, you will lose your opportunity to make the change to your benefits.
If you are planning to enroll in retiree health benefits, you should complete the following at least 60 days before you retire:
- Choose a retirement date and notify your department.
- File for retirement with TCDRS at http://www.tcdrs.org.
- You can contact TCDRS at (800) 823-7782 if assistance is needed.
- At least 60 to 90 days before you retire, contact the Social Security office. If you are age 65 or older, sign up for Medicare Part A and Part B (you and your spouse if they are Medicare eligible).
- Speak with the Benefits Department regarding current available health benefits/rates, coverage effective dates, premium automatic withdrawals, porting optional life insurance, and the HELPS program (for eligible peace officers only).
- Complete a Retiree Health Benefits Enrollment Form. The form must be completed and returned to Benefits before retiree coverage starts.
- Complete the UnitedHealthcare Enrollment Request Form if enrolling in Group Medicare Advantage HMO plan (PMA). Complete and submit the portability form to The Hartford if you elect to keep your life insurance. This will happen after your retirement.
After completing the step above, the only thing you will need to do is enjoy your retirement!
Please join the HR team in welcoming our two new hires, Anna Medina and Alex Galan, and in celebrating several work anniversaries.
Anna Medina earned a bachelor’s degree and will receive her master’s degree in December 2023. Anna serves our Employment Division. Alex Galan has his bachelor’s degree and serves our Worker’s Compensation Division. They have been doing an excellent job in their assigned tasks, and their progress is inspiring.
Our department is celebrating 6-month, 1-year, and 30-year work anniversaries:
- Completed 6-Month Probationary – Tricia Almarales, Bisola Adepoju, and Thomas Rodriguez
- 1-year Anniversary – Christopher Land, Gwendolyn McGraw, Althea Chaderton, Gina McCauley, and Joy Brown
- 30-year Anniversary – Yulonda Fletcher
Budget and Evaluation
Director: Dr. Ronica Watkins
Our office remains committed to developing a fiscally sound budget, which requires a complex balance of needs and services.
Dallas County’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30. The budget process for each upcoming fiscal year begins in January with budget planning and the development of budget guidelines. The Budget Guidelines serve as the foundation to the development of the baseline budget and set the framework for the entire budget process. The Baseline Budget contains revenue estimates developed by the County Auditor.
Dallas County’s FY2024 budget will be developed during the recovery of the impact from the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing supply chain challenges, labor challenges as well as the continued weight of Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) and, more recently, the February 2023 winter storm. Additionally, 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. Consequently, forecasting during these critical times becomes essential for effective governmental decision making.
The ongoing recovery from the COVID pandemic continues to produce a difficult and unstable environment for government services. In addition, the nation has been impacted by another public health crisis with the advent of Mpox. These public health emergencies are some of the factors that significantly impact our country and our economy. Nevertheless, with these challenges facing the nation and the local economy, we believe that Dallas County is able to weather these storms, as we continue being fiscally conservative with taxpayers’ resources.
Our office finalized a FY2024 Budget Schedule.
Dallas County’s budget process consists of department trainings, presentations, budget hearings, public hearings, and budget adoption. The budget calendar below outlines critical dates throughout the budget process.
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. OBE has added OpenGov stories to our webpage so citizens can navigate our budget and expenditures, as well as review frequently asked questions. View our OpenGov stories.
A copy of the adopted budget has been filed in the County Clerk’s Office, the County Auditor’s Office, and is available for viewing on the County’s website.
The Office of Budget and Evaluation welcomes two new members to the team.
Jacqueline Chairez joined our office as a Budget & Policy Analyst in January. She comes to Dallas County with previous county experience, working for Tarrant and Denton Counties. She has a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of North Texas and is the new analyst for most of the Courts/Justice Administration.
Olga Gonzalez has also joined our office as a Program Analyst I. She is bilingual and has 25 years of administrative and court work experience with Dallas County, including working for Constables and Justices of the Peace.