Monday, April 11, 2011

The State Government Transparency Proposals

In last week’s update I wrote about a series of what I believe to be innovative transparency and accessibility enhancing reforms which are part of House Bill 1086 that I authored with state Senator Clark Jolley.

In addition to the reforms that I wrote about in last week’s update, the bill also proposes to make state governance processes open to the public.

For instance, all too often, governments embark on expensive information technology projects only to meet with delayed deadlines and implementation, cost overruns, and deliverables which do not meet the envisioned result. House Bill 1086 creates the web presence through which the public can monitor the progress of these projects. This will allow the public and policy makers to note when projects start to fall behind schedule or cost more than initially projected.

One of the challenges facing state purchasing offices is communicating with potential vendors who are interested on bidding for government business. All too often, unfortunately, a prospective vendor is uncertain about the details in the state’s request for proposal, and purchasing officials understandably do not wish to privately communicate with one particular vendor for fear of being seen prejudicing the bidding process. If the bidder’s concerns are not addressed in a pre-bid conference, he/she may price the uncertainty into the cost of the bid, thus costing state taxpayers more money. House Bill 1086 establishes a public Wiki platform through which this communication could occur in a public discourse at any time, and therefore mitigate this liability.

The bill also allows state agency-level purchasing officers to use a public Wiki platform to report items which are on a mandated state purchasing schedule and which can be found for less money off the shelf at area businesses. This will have the effect of helping centralized purchasing personnel manage state spend contracts to ensure the state’s purchasing power is properly leveraged. It will also bring transparency to the failure of centralized purchasing officers to address these situations when they arise.

While not part of the reforms in House Bill 1086, House Bill 1601 and Senate Bill 772 (authored by Representative Aaron Stiles and Senator Clark Jolley) also use technology to assist the taxpayers with accessing state government by establishing the state’s business licensing one-stop location. This is a result of a request from Governor Mary Fallin and the policy in these bills is designed to enable business owners get their licenses and permits in one convenient location. Previous state government modernization reforms placed state license and permitting processes online. These bills are now seeking to enable users to access real-time processing and a one-stop location for all of their licensing and permitting needs. This will enable business owners to spend less time dealing with the government and more time growing their businesses and creating jobs.

House Bill 1086 and Senate Bill 772 were approved by a Senate committee last week and now go before the full Senate for consideration. We will consider Senate Bill 772 in the Government Modernization Committee later this week.

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