Monday, July 9, 2007

Consolidating State Government

Consolidating State Government

One of this summer's most exciting events in the House of Representatives will be a comprehensive interim study designed to discover areas in which government agencies can be consolidated. The study will explore the possibility of bringing certain state agencies and commissions under the wings of other state entities, with the goal of streamlining efforts and using taxpayer dollars more effectively.

Efforts to consolidate state government are being led by two of my colleagues who represent part of the Edmond area. Representative Ken Miller, who serves as Vice Chair of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee, will spearhead the study. House Speaker Lance Cargill has also committed his support to the effort.

Cargill states that over the decades, Oklahoma’s state government has simply grown too large. He believes there are a number of state departments and commissions which could easily be combined into other corresponding portions of government.

Miller claims that many state agencies are duplicating what other parts of state government are doing. He feels that by removing the duplication, we can make government more efficient and unified in its approach, and thus the people are better served.

I believe the study will produce a number of positive recommendations for agency consolidation and will prove useful in reducing unnecessary administrative overhead, which costs taxpayers millions of dollars.

This year I spent a considerable amount of time analyzing the state government appropriations process. In my analysis, I reached the conclusion that perhaps the easiest form of state government spending abuse to get a handle on is the inappropriate number of state agencies. It doesn't take much to discover that a number of them perform duties that could effectively be reorganized.

Hopefully, the study proposed by Speaker Cargill and Rep. Miller will lead not only to a number of agency consolidations, but to the outright elimination of those which are functioning in roles inappropriate for state government.

Once these recommendations are finalized, and if the political will to act is present, the taxpayers will realize savings as a result. However, the process to streamline government must be ongoing. It is important for the legislature to pass yet another of Cargill's initiatives.

Cargill wishes to establish an independent panel to review state agencies at least every eight years. Modeled after similar efforts at the federal level, the Commission on the Accountability and Review of State Agencies (CARSA) would examine opportunities for consolidating and streamlining duplicative state agencies. Hopefully, this would provide an on-going process that would result in a consistent push for smaller government.

Agency consolidation is just the first step toward true government spending reform. It will be much easier to focus attention on the important task of eliminating waste within individual agencies, once the number of agencies is reduced.

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