Monday, October 10, 2011

More About the 2011 Modernization Reforms

I wanted to write just one more article describing some of the reform in this year’s successful Government Modernization legislation. These reforms put into place a comprehensive framework to increase the transparency of state government process, lower the cost of government to the taxpayer, and significantly enhance the ability of the citizen to access government documents and records.

Reducing the need for small business owners to interact with the bureaucracy. Oklahoma business owners must navigate through a series of state bureaucracies to obtain licenses and permits. House Bill 1601 builds on Oklahoma’s existing business one-stop web portal to offer the state’s licensing and permitting from one convenient online location. This means that small business owners should spend less time in line at multiple bureaucracies, and more time building their business and strengthening Oklahoma’s economy.

Placing state documents and reports in a single online location. Countless reports and studies are relegated to state archives, never to be seen again. You may remember from my update two weeks ago that I wrote about the effort to centralize access to state government forms. This reform is similar in that it places reports and studies online where they can be indexed and searched by keyword or term. The transparency impact should be significant. For instance, the 2005/2006 IBM study that was key to reforming the state's purchasing system, had received little attention prior to being discovered by a House interim study in 2007. It appears that prior to the House study, the document had already been shelved and was mostly ignored by the bureaucracy. These types of oversights should occur less frequently when the studies are integrated inside the one-stop portal where everyone can see them.

Integrating school district spending data with OpenBooks. During the 2010 legislative session, Oklahoma's local school district transparency data was mandated for online placement. However, the data was placed online through the Department of Education’s site and not co-located with other state spending data. House Bill 1086 co-locates the common education spending data with the state spending data through the OpenBooks web site.

Bringing transparency to state revolving funds. The state maintains a series of revolving funds that are not subject to limitation by fiscal year. The public and state policy officials have limited easy access to the status of these funds. House Bill 1086 mandates the ongoing publication of the fund balances through the web portal. As with all data feeds, this data is to be published in a standardized format.

Allowing the public to see the current condition of state Information Technology projects. State officials have the ability to engage in costly IT related projects with little oversight from the public, the press or policy leaders. House Bill 1086 creates a project management platform that is publicly accessible. Project updates must be publicly posted, allowing the public and policy leaders to quickly ascertain when a project experiences a cost or time overrun, or a deterioration in the projected value of project deliverables.

Ending the practice of incentivizing state travel. State employees have been incentivized to travel on the state’s dime because frequent flyer miles awarded for taxpayer-funded travel could be retained for personal use by the employee. The continued use of state travel expenditures during the economic downturn has been especially disturbing. House Bill 1086 develops a policy similar to policies implemented in other states that stops this practice.

Consolidating payroll services. Past testimony before the Government Modernization Committee has described how state government could save about $2 million each year through the consolidation of the state’s payroll system. House Bill 1086 consolidates the state’s payroll processing system into a single offering.

Over the past three weeks I have been able to talk about many of this year’s government modernization reforms. To see a more detailed listing, visit

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