Saturday, January 30, 2010

Path to Efficient State Government or Another Report Gathering Dust?

As a member of the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes (CEAO) I had the opportunity to participate in putting together a comprehensive report that identifies cost saving measures to be implemented either immediately, within eighteen months, or within three to five years. Pursuant to PA 09-7, the initial report must be submitted the Governor, and House and Senate Leadership by February 1, 2010. I voted in favor of the CEAO report at our meeting on Friday.

The direction our state is headed in has given me grave concerns. The actions by the majority party last year to increase taxes did not fix the deficit. We need to get serious about cutting spending and finding savings in all areas of state government. I suggested consolidation of state agencies almost a year ago and while I was hopeful things would move along more quickly; this proposal and others like it are finally getting the serious consideration they deserve.

The budget that passed last fall gave the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes the hard job of coming up with $50 million in additional savings from state agencies. It will be tough, but I think closely assessing the economic efficiency our state agencies is a good place to start.

The biggest challenge to implementing substantive changes to state government is the legislative process. The CEAO is only an advisory commission and has no power to implement change. We can only hope the legislative leadership of the Democratic majority will embrace efficiency in state government.

While the CEAO report set to be submitted on Monday is just the first draft, Commission members have identified proposals for which they will seek implementation immediately. Many of the immediate solutions are in the area of Information Technology and include plans for an on-line application system for the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of Transportation, Department of Education, and the Department of Social Services Services. The full report also recommends immediate savings by streamlining state agencies, utilizing electronic communication, changes to the contracting process, and maximization of federal funds. After revisions, the report will be available for review at:

Many of the ideas in this report only save thousands when we need millions, but the small steps do add up. In California, one of the proposals that have been mentioned here, a shift to Open Office software, has already been implemented and it’s time for Connecticut to get serious about finding creative and strategic ways to reduce our deficit. Increasing taxes slows our economy and any plan to increases revenue rather than reduce spending is a step in the wrong direction.