One of the best parts about blogging is the opportunity to meet so many great people. Derek Miller is no exception. He is remarkably talented, very bright, has a super-impressive resume – and he’s not even 40 years old. In fact, earlier this year, he was named one of the top “40 Under 40” by Utah Business. He is currently the Deputy Director of GOED. He previously directed the Utah Division of Real Estate and spent several years in Washington DC rooting out waste, fraud and abuse and maximizing efficiency with a couple of different organizations. He advises the Governor on a number of issues related to the state’s economic well-being.
Derek graduated from BYU with a joint Law and Master’s of Public Administration degree in 1998. He had the opportunity to join Arthur Anderson in a brand-new office in Washington DC. While there, he focused on finding inefficiencies and making recommendations for improvement for a number of public sector clients.
After 9/11, wanted to do something different. He stepped outside his comfort zone and cold-called on a consulting job to make government better and more efficient. He got the job working with the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington DC. He acted as Counsel in all aspects of the legislative process: negotiating and drafting legislation, staff hearings, and providing policy and legal advice to Members of Congress. He also conducted congressional oversight of federal agencies, focusing on waste, fraud, abuse and inefficiencies.
When Jon Huntsman, Jr became Utah’s governor, Miller was heavily recruited to come work in Utah. At the time, Congress was in the midst of the transportation reauthorization bill, something that only happens once every seven years. He told the administration he needed to see that process through, but would be done some time in March. The last day of July, just before Congress left for the August recess, the bill finally passed. Miller got a phone call the next day, Friday, and was asked if he could be at work in Utah on Monday. Being swamped with the major undertaking of his job, he and his wife, Laura had not had much opportunity to discuss moving to Utah. They spent the weekend talking about it and by Monday, had decided they would accept a position and make the move.
Miller accepted a job with the Department of Commerce and became the Director of the Division of Real Estate. He felt this would be the perfect opportunity to practice what he had been preaching – efficiency, reducing waste, and streamlining government. He believed that if you give employees a chance and the right environment, you’ll see some great results.
Here’s an example: the Division of Real Estate has over 60,000 licensees and many renewals are processed every month. When Miller took over, all 60,000 licenses were being sent out and then returned through the “regular” mail. Each month, envelopes would be spread across a conference table, then painstakingly stuffed, closed, stamped and mailed. Miller immediately moved to digitize the process. When he asked about bringing it online, he was told it would be $15,000, could only be done on a certain type of scanner, with special kinds of software. So, he went to Staples, bought a scanner and a program that would import directly to the computer and they were in business – for a few hundred dollars. Almost overnight, turn-around time went from 3 weeks to 3 days. It’s that ability to look past government bureaucracy and figure out a way to get things done that has earned him accolades around the country.
In Jan 2008, he joined GOED – the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Miller is now the Deputy Director and oversees all day-to-day operations, working with Director Spencer Eccles. Miller had previously been over international trade and diplomacy, as well as corporate recruitment.
“Use every arrow in your quiver.” Miller said, speaking about the many areas where GOED works. “We have lower taxes and a diverse economy,” he said, “unlike other states like Michigan who had all their eggs in one basket.” GOED does corporate recruitment in other states, works with Utah companies providing business assistance and training, has rural offices focused on helping those companies with their unique needs and works internationally as well.
Derek and his wife Laura live in Salt Lake with their three children. He is a real benefit to our state and one whose career is worth watching.