Monday, January 11, 2010

Modernization Changes Taking Effect

This is the time of year when we start to see the effect of 2009 legislative changes as they become law. This includes the results from House Bill 1032. House Bill 1032 was the 2009 omnibus modernization bill that focused on using the premise of the economic downturn to mandate new government efficiencies, targeted some of the especially egregious examples of government waste and made accessing government services more convenient for the citizens.

Just a few days ago, a provision in House Bill 1032 took effect which requires purchases made by state employees with state purchase cards to be placed online. If you visit, click on the "open books" link, and then "search open books" link, you can review these purchases. Some of them will certainly raise the following question: "In an economic downturn, are these expenditures really necessary?" You will also notice a disproportionately high number of purchases that are simply classified as "General Transaction." In other words, users of these cards have not taken the time to detail what they have spent the money on. This is a practice that should be changed.

Another important component of HB 1032 is a mandate to place state licensing processes online by July 1 of this year. No longer should people be forced to wait in line at a bureaucracy during a business day in order to obtain a license. Instead, you will be able to interact with the government from the comfort of your own home on your own time.

One of these processes which is about to placed online is an offering by the Tax Commission allowing the renewal of motor vehicle plates. The offering is very well designed and performs tasks such as verifying insurance policies and accepting credit card payments almost as easily as the web site allows you to purchase a book.

There is a clause by which certain complex licensing process can be exempt from this 1032 mandate. I intend to monitor these exceptions very closely and work on ways to find solutions so that at some time in the future, all licensing process will be available online, no matter how complex the process.

The Department of Central Services is now operating under significantly different purchasing rules in accordance with legislative changes in House Bill 1032. These changes are designed to allow the department to manage items of large spend and ensure that the state's leveraged buying power is used to get the best deal. DCS is already reporting a state government savings of nearly $5 million, and $8 million to state and local governments. I intend to closely observe the implementation of new purchasing policy, monitor the savings, and see if additional purchasing system reform legislation will be needed one year from now.

Currently we are drafting the next set of modernization which will be designed to incorporate a whole new set of efficiency and transparency initiatives. I will be sure to write about these issues in upcoming articles.

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