Saturday, February 19, 2011

Kris Steele Editorial

Right-sizing Oklahoma state government is one of my top priorities as Speaker of the House. To help achieve this goal, House Bill 2140 proposes to consolidate seven of Oklahoma’s central service state agencies into one agency based on similar mission and subject matter. This is an important step toward making state government more efficient, accountable, and responsive to the needs of Oklahoma taxpayers.
            In December, the Government Modernization Committee conducted an interim study to analyze the possible benefits of combining several of Oklahoma’s central service agencies. Central service agencies are state agencies that provide services to other Oklahoma state agencies.
The study identified a possible savings of $10 million per year if the coordination results in a reduction of just 20 percent of appropriated dollars. Additional savings would accrue through the reduction of overhead and administrative costs.
           Currently, state employees must access multiple bureaucracies to utilize state shared services. A consolidated central services agency would allow procurement officers to deal with one entity, thus simplifying and streamlining the process.
            In some cases, it is difficult for a state agency director to determine which shared service agencies to use under our current system. For example, the Office of Personnel Management and the Office of State Finance provide almost identical shared financial services. Because there is not a clear set of performance metrics by which state agencies can gauge and account for the services they employ, the current process is cumbersome and inefficient.
It is not prudent for Oklahoma’s central service agencies to provide duplicative services to state agencies. Clearly, this level of red tape slows down the ability of the state to quickly provide services to Oklahoma taxpayers.
Under HB 2140, Department of Central Services, Office of Personnel Management, Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission, Oklahoma Department of Libraries, Oklahoma State Employees Benefits Council and Oklahoma State and Education Employees Group Insurance Board would be streamlined into the Office of State Finance.
This proposal is patterned after the central services governance structures in Montana, Indiana and Utah. House Bill 2140 advances Governor Fallin’s agenda to modernize state agencies and increase efficiencies in state government.
Oklahoma must live within its means, and the House of Representatives is  committed to making government smaller, smarter and more efficient in order to save taxpayer dollars and better serve the citizens of Oklahoma.

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