Starting a New Session
The past few weeks have been busy as I have been focused on the 2009 legislative agenda. I look forward to working as the house author of a reform-heavy agenda of House and Senate bills including issues such as: a new round of government modernization, term limits for statewide officials, prohibition of using taxpayer funds to hire contract lobbyists, and legislation prohibiting Oklahoma from entering into agreements with Canadian provinces and Mexican states to share your driver's license information.
In addition, I will be carrying several bills requested by constituents concerning issues of local concern.
I will be serving on four committees this year. They are: Agency Oversight and Administrative Rules, Public Safety and Homeland Security, the Appropriations Subcommittee on Natural Resources and Regulatory Services, and I will be the Chairman of the Government Modernization Committee.
I am very excited to serve as the Chair of the Modernization Committee and since receiving this appointment, I have been working hard to keep up with all of the ideas and suggestions for government modernization. I appreciate this input and greatly value the feedback. Please do not hesitate to send me your ideas (firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-5064).
One area that will receive the most immediate focus in regards to modernization is the state's purchasing system. The current system is somewhat antiquated and a 2007 house study found that millions of taxpayer dollars could be saved with the implementation of better purchasing practices. One of the most important reforms will be to get a handle on tracking the money that is spent by the state. Currently, the state does not have a very user friendly centralized database of spending data that can be used by purchasing officials to leverage savings. Can you imagine what would happen to a private business in the business world if the owners of the business could not clearly see where their money was being spent?
If the state can continue developing a system that implements easier documentation of spending, we will not only save money through leveraged purchasing power, but spending can be more transparent.
A few months ago I wrote about the passage of Senate Bill 1 which placed government spending online for people to review. The people are already using this service as a way to monitor government spending. Just last week I received an e-mail from an individual who wanted to know why a state agency was allowing millions of dollars of inappropriate grants. He had been able to review the spending because of Senate Bill 1.
However, this data only includes purchases in excess of 25,000. The spending data is difficult to search and there are no explanations for what was purchased. It is my hope that as we continue to modernize the state's purchasing system, it will be soon be possible to place ALL state spending in a searchable database complete with explanations of what was purchased. This would be a much more effective tool for the people to hold government accountable.
I look forward to working for you this year to endeavor to make government more efficient and accountable.