During the past three weeks I have used this medium to describe the role Oklahoma’s newly elected officials have played in working toward smaller state government.
I initially envisioned that I would write about this in just one article. However, I have observed so many different attempts by these officials to eliminate wasteful spending, that one article has grown into four.
I enjoyed the opportunity to work with new Labor Commissioner Mark Costello this year. I spent a significant amount of time this year working with Labor Department officials as part of our state agency consolidation processes. Costello has made of point of declaring his opposition to “sacred cows” in state government and has been a strong advocate for reducing the size of government through agency consolidation. I look forward to working with Costello in the future to consolidate unnecessary overhead in state government. Without a doubt, Costello has emerged as one of the state’s leading advocate for government reform.
I am also extremely appreciative of the fact that new Oklahoma Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb is drawing attention to the state’s need for asset management. You may recall in the past that I have described how state assets such as buildings have not even been included in a centralized inventory. Can you image what would happen to a privately owned business that could not even tell you what buildings it owned? A cursory compendium of state assets has recently been curated, and this document should provide us a start in attempting to get a handle on this huge problem.
The Lieutenant Governor’s leadership on this issue will be crucial in finding the millions of dollars of state assets that should be removed from the hands of the government and returned to the free market where they belong.
This fall, the Government Modernization committee will conduct a study led by State Representative TW Shannon to analyze the need for a much more aggressive state asset management solution.
Finally, a most dramatic transformation has occurred in the state Department of Education. You may recall from a previous article how at the end of 2010, the department refused to follow state law that required an assessment of their information technology assets. This was an important study that was necessary to determine the possible money savings from the implementation of an enterprise-wide IT consolidation plan. It was incredible that a state bureaucracy just ignored the law.
Once new Superintendent of Education Janet Barresi took office, all of this changed. The Department of Education transformed into a leader in following the IT consolidation law and actually became the first large state agency to consolidate under the state’s IT consolidation plan. The savings is expected to run as high as $600,000 each year. At a time when too many state agencies are still fighting the IT consolidation, it is very exciting to see this type of transformation occur inside a state bureaucracy. $600,000 is a lot of money and the taxpayers have been well served by this decision.
I believe these actions reflect the fact that many of Oklahoma’s newly elected officials have a real desire to reduce government spending. I am confident that most of them will remain true to this goal and that Oklahoma will be well served in the upcoming years.