Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Government Going Modern - Editorial by Speaker Kris Steele

       A buzzword at the Capitol is “government modernization.” The work taking place in this area is similar to renovating an old house that has failed to keep up with the times. Most neighborhoods have an old house that was once grand but now leaks water through busted pipes and loses energy through unsealed, broken windows. State government is a lot like this. Many of the systematic processes that keep state government running are outdated, inefficient and in great need of updating.

    To help fix this, the Legislature is looking at several proposals that call for using newer technology wherever possible and consolidating or reforming several services. A lot of these proposals are in line with what Gov. Mary Fallin will discuss on May 6, when she gives the keynote address at the Gov2.0a Oklahoma City conference.

Government 2.0 is a process occurring nationwide that encourages inventive uses of technology in government as a means to make it more efficient and accessible to the public. The Oklahoma House of Representatives embraces the Government 2.0 concept as part of a larger goal to modernize government wherever possible in ways that increase openness and efficiencies with taxpayer dollars. Oklahoma is fortunate to have several legislators and elected officials who are working to enact these types of reforms, including my colleague Rep. Jason Murphey, R-Guthrie, who is also speaking at the Gov2.0a conference next week.

While I am not much of a technology user myself (call me old fashioned, but I love paper!), I absolutely understand the value that technology can bring to state government. House Bill 2140 was drafted to begin the process of consolidating several state agencies that share similar functions into the Office of State Finance. The bill requires that the agency do this in a way that reduces the cost of providing these functions by at least 15 percent.

Also under consideration are other ideas such as establishing a robust electronic payment system to replace many of the state’s outdated and overly expensive manual payment processes, consolidating several payroll services that are currently spread across multiple bureaucracies, and requiring that certain state documents be filed electronically rather than physically in order to save on printing costs, among other things.

One of the main proposals is to launch new state websites where many state forms and documents will be publicly available. This improves government transparency and reduces administrative costs that are incurred when records need to be viewed or forms need to be distributed.

These measures place Oklahoma on the right track to finally bring our government into the 21st century.

House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, represents House District 26.

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