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State of Missouri team members compete in 2022 Show Me Challenge competition, winning team presents idea to implement a state workforce employee referral program

September 28, 2022

JEFFERSON CITY, MO - Today, the State of Missouri announced the winners of the sixth cycle of the Show Me Challenge. On Monday, nine finalist teams competed in person before a panel of state government senior leaders to present the best ideas to improve state government.

Inspired by the hit TV show “Shark Tank,” the Show Me Challenge continues to bring together state team members from across Missouri’s 16 executive departments to pitch solutions that improve systems and processes that serve the citizens of Missouri, cut out unnecessary work, and/or save the State time and money.

The Show Me Challenge invited all State of Missouri team members in the executive branch to submit an initial pitch outlining their solutions. Nine teams were then invited to participate in the final competition. They had the opportunity to further develop their pitch, receive coaching, and then present their ideas in front of a panel of judges, including department directors and other senior leaders with government, policy, and business expertise.

In this cycle, the finalist teams had representatives from 7 of the 16 executive departments of the Missouri state government and competed in front of a live and virtual audience.

First place went to the team Show Me’s Got Talent from the Office of Administration (OA), Department of Revenue (DOR), and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for their idea to implement a statewide employee referral program that incentivizes team members to advocate for and endorse jobs to quality applicants, positively impacting the hiring and retention of team members.

Winning team members of Show Me’s Got Talent are:

  • Destiny Blume
  • DJ Brower
  • Tom Joseph
  • Tina Mason
  • Jessie Pace
  • Dawn Sweazea
  • Megan Thomas
  • Tamra Wilson 

Second place went to Calling All Placements (CAP) Alert from the Department of Social Services (DSS) for their proposal to utilize a mass communication system to quickly contact potential foster homes when a new placement is needed; reducing the trauma to children, the frequency of more expensive placement types, and worker overtime while increasing employee productivity and improving the experience of children and foster families.

Third place went to One Team One Bill from DOR for their idea to consolidate a final audit billing to one bill & payment, reduce labor cost and process time for our citizens and advance their department’s mission "to provide every customer the best experience every time."

This year, a Fourth and Fifth place were awarded to contestants. Fourth place went to Run Risk Reduction Program from DSS for their proposal to build rapport with Missouri’s youth to reduce run episodes, and Fifth place went to Internal Staffing Pool from OA for their idea to create an innovative recruitment and hiring process to quickly fill work gaps; creating a future opportunity for the State to continue operations in a quality and cost-effective way.

The judges for the sixth cycle were Senator Mike Bernskoetter; Sandy Karsten, Director, Department of Public Safety; Wayne Wallingford, Director, Department of Revenue; Robert Knodell, Acting Director, Department of Social Services; Dr. Laura Naught, Deputy Director, Department of Health and Senior Services; Jennifer Tidball, Chief Operating Officer, Department of Social Services; and Jamie Birch, Deputy Policy Director, Governor’s Office.

The judges considered a pitch’s quality, practicality, and potential for impact.

“Each of the nine teams that participated in the challenge should be proud of their work,” said Sen. Bernskoetter. “I was impressed with their ingenuity and willingness to think outside-of-the-box to tackle some of the difficult challenges facing their departments. These teams identified ways to make their departments better and found workable solutions, often with no extra cost to our taxpayers. Through their projects and ideas, these teams demonstrated the type of talent we have working for our great state.”

“The creative solutions presented by the Show-Me Challenge finalists were inspirational,” said Robert Knodell, Acting Director, Department of Social Services. “These presentations demonstrated that our state team members are dedicated to driving change that is both practical and transformative for the way state government operates.”

“It’s inspiring to see fellow state employees turning their real life experiences and creativity into thoroughly researched, problem solving ideas,” said Dr. Laura Naught, Deputy Director, Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS). “Some of the ideas we heard will save taxpayer dollars, some will bring innovative solutions to complex problems, some will improve state team member work environments, and some could be lifesaving. Our DHSS team members, for example, saw a need to increase cancer screenings among the state workforce to diagnose and treat cancer earlier. I applaud the heart, dedication, research and hard work we saw this week and I’m proud to work alongside each of these individuals.”

To date, over 600 team members have pitched ideas to improve production and processes across state government. Cycle 7 of the Show Me Challenge competition will begin in spring 2023.

For more on the Show Me Challenge, go here.