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DCPS OSE Organizational Transformation

The Challenge

In 2010, a new Deputy Chancellor came to the Washington, DC Public Schools Office of Special Education (OSE) with a vision for transforming OSE into a high performing division. His priorities were aimed at improving cost management, implementing a related services management plan, reducing DC families’ reliance on non-public schools to deliver services for which DCPS is responsible, and enhancing revenue by maximizing federal financial participation. UPD, in conjunction with Hagerty Consulting, was engaged to help meet those goals.

The Solution

There was a general sense that OSE was not receiving revenue to which it was entitled because of inefficiencies in its Medicaid recoupment efforts. School districts can be reimbursed for Medicaid-eligible services for special needs students so long as eligible services are properly documented and the students receiving those services are qualified and registered with the federal government. If OSE did a better job of recovering the cost of more services, it would have more revenue available for other district priorities.

UPD was brought in to perform an organizational assessment of the Medicaid recovery unit (MRU) to obtain information about the performance of the unit, the factors that affect its performance, and to make recommendations for improvement and restructuring. The consulting team created “as is” business process models to accurately reflect the current system; established “to be” process models to improve the speed and likelihood of cost recovery; developed recommendations for organizational changes necessary to effectively manage the “to be” models; and created detailed action plans for the implementation of all changes over a course of six months.

The Outcome

With UPD’s help implementing the action plans, OSE recovered an additional $19 million in Medicaid reimbursements that had previously been disallowed (effectively reducing the refunds the federal Medicaid audit claimed DCPS owed back to them) and reduced the cost of operating the MRU by $800K annually. Additionally, OSE estimates that the reforms have allowed them to collect approximately $3.6 million more per year.

And in December of 2014, the federal courts dismissed the 18 year old special education lawsuit against DCPS, ending judicial oversight of how school administrators respond to families awaiting services for students with disabilities. In giving control back to the District, the judge referenced the “steady progress” the District has made in its special education operations.  Click here to read more about this historic decision inThe Washington Post.