DPU receives Roadrunner recognition

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By Jennifer Garcia

The Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities will be honored through the 2008 New Mexico Quality Award Program on April 2 in Albuquerque.

The DPU submitted an application to the NMQA in which they gave examples of quality improvements they are working on and the process through which the improvements are being made.

Some of the quality improvements the DPU has made include: meter reading improvements and software improvements.

Utilities Manager John Arrowsmith said that the DPU was able to make meter-reading improvements by setting daily meter reading quotas, as well as billing daily instead of once a week, like they had been.

In addition, the computer system enhancements have streamlined billing. Other areas in which the DPU has improved include mapping of utilities assets and an ownership investment in two hydroelectric plants.

The improvements made by the DPU began in the ’80s and ’90s, according to a press release.

“Our quality improvements began decades ago,” Arrowsmith said in the release. “Our Utilities Board leadership and my predecessors, Chris Ortega and Robert “Buck” Monday led the utilities team through several quality enhancements initiatives which our team continues to build upon today,” Arrowsmith continued.

Arrowsmith said that he realizes there’s a long way to go and a lot of improvements that need to be made, but he’s proud of his department.

“This process is a great way to recognize improvements that need to be made,” he said. “We also wanted to recognize Los Alamos National Bank, who is the only organization in the state that won a national Baldridge Award.”

Arrowsmith said that the staff at LANB talked to DPU staff and assisted them in filling out their NMQA application.

“We got ideas about what they look for in the applications and what kind of improvements they had made,” he said.

The NMQA program assesses and recognizes organizations at three levels: Piñon, which signifies a commitment to quality; Roadrunner, which means the organization is making progress toward quality; and the Zia Award for performance excellence.

According the press release, Bill Enloe, CEO of LANB, said: “It is an impressive accomplishment for the DPU to have achieved the level of excellence to be recognized as a Roadrunner recipient by Quality New Mexico. The discipline to meet the rigorous self-assessment requirements and take the steps to improve the organization is not possible without a true desire to be the best in your field. Congratulations to all the management and staff of the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities.”

DPU staff will be recognized during the Roadrunner ceremony on April 2 in Albuquerque. Another Los Alamos organization, Mosaic Architecture, will also be recognized for reaching Piñon status.

The DPU is New Mexico’s only four-service community-owned utility providing electricity, water, gas and wastewater services for residents and organizations in Los Alamos County.