Thursday, April 22, 2010

"Government Restructuring Task Force" holds first meeting.

House Bill 237, link, was passed during the Regular Session in January, and created a task force charged with "restructuring" government. It is comprised of seventeen voting members and six advisory members, link. Senator Tim Eichenberg was elected as the chair by acclamation; Rep Patricia Lundstrum as vice-chair.

Eichenberg was a good choice. He made two landmark decisions rather immediately;

  • there will be a skilled facilitator who will run the meetings, and
  • meetings will start on time.
Just because someone is politically influential enough to be elected the Chair of a committee, does not guarantee that they have the skill set or the inclination to run the meetings efficiently and effectively. Eichenberg and the Committee were wise to make that provision.

The first meeting after Eichenberg took charge, was the first meeting in the Roundhouse, in my experience, that actually started on time. Kudos to the Senator on that major step forward in restructuring.

Committee members are looking for direction. There is expressed confusion about what exactly, they are supposed to/going to, do.

House Minority Whip Keith Gardner wants the committee to "drill down" on state government and find the inefficiencies, the redundancies, the superfluous employees, etc, and then eliminate them.

Some want to set arbitrary goals; reduce state employees by "x" percent and then figure out where to make the cuts.

I urged them to take a broader view; instead of searching out inefficiencies and fixing them, they should restructure government so the system continuously ferrets out inefficiencies and fixes them. The difference is "fixes" are temporary and an honest restructuring of government is a solution that will last forever, if it is done correctly.

I offered as an example, transparency. If they write a restructuring plan that makes government as transparent as the law will allow, inefficiencies, ineffectualities, redundancies, corruption, and incompetence will be readily apparent and subject to remediation.

The authorizing legislation requires the Task Force to complete its work by the end of the calendar year, December 31st, 2010. It also requires the Task Force to take public input. The last sentence reads;
It is necessary for the public peace, health and safety that
this Act take effect immediately. (emphasis added)
I laid out my objection to their deadline which is two months too late for voters to weigh in on the restructuring. Candidates for legislative and state offices should be on the record for or against the restructuring plan before they stand for election. Much of the groundwork for the restructuring has already been laid by previous Task Forces with essentially identical charges, whose output was shelved upon completion.

I was blunt; I argued that there were three factors and three factors only that would keep them from finishing their work before the November elections;
  • their competence,
  • their character, and
  • their courage.
If stakeholders are ever to pay attention to any interim committee ever, this would be the one to which their attention, and attendance, should be directed.

They meet next on May 24th and 25th. link.

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