Government Reform

Upon taking office, Dow inherited a county government with good people doing good work, but with old processes and structural financial problems. Instead of pointing fingers, Dow got to work changing the way King County does business. From revamping customer service to updating decades-old systems, Dow and his team have put the county back on sound financial footing. Dow is building the mandate and culture of continuous improvement, to ensure that King County residents receive even more value for each tax dollar.

Introduction of Lean management – Dow appointed former State Senator Fred Jarrett as Deputy Executive, and they partnered with local business leaders and employees to bring Lean management into government. The results: efficiencies and reforms that save time and money, preserve services for a growing population, and give employees the tools they need to keep the improvements coming.

Merger of formerly incompatible business systems – To eliminate outdated paper processes, redundant data entry, and unreliable, decades-old technology, Dow re-energized and completed the Accountable Business Transformation. This transformation successfully merged two separate payroll systems and two separate financial systems, some dating back to the 1970s, into one modern, efficient business backbone, providing real-time information for payroll, budgeting, and procurement.

Making it simpler to do business with King County – By redesigning the County’s vendor registration system, Dow has made it possible for more small businesses to bid on government contracts, increasing competition and ensuring more opportunity in the local community. The new online system has saved thousands of dollars in paper and staff time, and Dow has created new partnerships with the Port of Seattle and Sound Transit for a one-stop small contractor certification program.

Reform of permitting services – During his first term, Dow made reforming King County’s permitting processes a priority by creating a new, predictable, fixed-fee model for building permits, making many permits available “over-the-counter”, and moving the permitting office closer to customers. The new fixed-fee model for building permits replaced open-ended hourly rates for many permits and established greater transparency in the permitting process. Dow created a customer service unit specifically for rural property owners. He also personally issued the first single-family home building permit at the new Snoqualmie offices of the renamed King County Department of Permitting and Environmental Review, emphasizing customer service-focused changes in King County.


Maintained sterling AAA bond rating - By strengthening reserves and cutting costs, Dow’s administration, working closely with the County Council, has consistently earned King County the highest-possible ratings from the three major credit rating agencies. The “key efficiency gains” and “ongoing savings achieved from labor cost reductions” spearheaded by Dow’s administration were cited by a rating agency to support its ratings. The high ratings are saving King County taxpayers $123 million over the life of bonds refinanced during Dow's term.

Contained costs of employee health care - King County’s nationally-recognized employee wellness program has created $46 million in health care savings over five years – thanks to improved health, a shift to a higher-quality, lower-cost health care, and more informed decisions by employees that save thousands of dollars for their families and for taxpayers.