Saturday, May 15, 2010

Update on Modernization Initiatives

During the weeks preceding this year's session, I wrote a series of articles in which I explained a proposed schedule of government modernization items designed to cut wasteful government spending and provide more transparency to the way the government spends your money. When I wrote the original articles, I solicited the help of House District 31 constituents in providing ideas and suggestions. I have appreciated this input. Much of this modernization effort has been supported by House leadership and with their help, legislation has advanced through most of the legislative process.

It has been my goal to find those practices which are clearly the most wasteful and difficult for even the most aggressive status quo politicians to defend. I believe this is the perfect opportunity to reduce wasteful spending practices because legislators are feeling the impact of receiving calls from their constituents who are worried about spending cuts due to recent state government revenue shortfalls. It is hard for legislators to vote against cutting out extremely wasteful spending while funding the various programs important to their constituents.

Sometimes there is a double impact to these proposals. Not only do they save taxpayer dollars by reducing wasteful spending, modernization proposals also make Oklahoma a more business-friendly state. One of these initiatives is House Bill 2332 which included a provision to make it easier for business to secure work from the state. As part of reforming Oklahoma's purchasing laws, it was evident that it was becoming difficult for publicly traded companies to do business with the state because they could not justify entering into a state required non-standard liability contract. One major technology vendor explained that fewer entities were willing to do business with state government and as a result, taxpayers may have less opportunity for choice and subsequently be forced to pay higher prices. HB 2332 makes it possible for these companies to utilize standardized liability contracts.

Many of the modernization proposals, including HB 2332, have either been signed into law or are successfully approaching the end of the legislative process. Other initiatives, such as the Gov 2.0 transparency proposal and the expansion of the Open Books web site, are nearing the end of the legislative approval process. While there have been some significant challenges in securing approval, most of the modernization ideas have survived to this point in the session. As we are nearing the final deadlines, I look forward to being able to provide a comprehensive report in which I will detail these changes and their impact on state government.