Colorado Regulatory Reform Embraces Community Collaboration

The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) is charged with the task of “preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado.”  As a result DORA has developed the initiative, “Cutting Red Tape in Colorado State Government: Making Government More Efficient, Effective and Elegant.”  A report published by DORA in december 2011, “Pits and Peeves Roundtable Initiative,” examined government reform ideas by collaborating with various business organizations, local governments, advocacy and community groups, non-profit groups, and academic institutions in a roundtable forum.  This forum allowed senior government officials to hear directly from businesses and community members what problems are causing government inefficiencies.

The report examines the issues, common themes, suggested solutions, progress thus far, and steps to be taken with respect to government and regulatory reform.  A few of the issues discussed were the need for change in government culture to focus on customer service, regulatory inefficiencies and delays, the need for greater coordination among agencies, the need for better coordination between federal and local agencies, the need for periodic review of agency rules and regulations to evaluate continuous need and effectiveness, making better use of available technology, the need for a go to person in each agency to help “customers,” the need to pay greater attention to economic/unintended adverse impacts of proposed regulations, requirements and procedures, and the need to pay more attention to ensuring that new regulations reflect legislative intent.

This reform tactic is founded on the belief that the problem must first be identified for any government reform to be successful.  To that end, Colorado is listening to the people who are on the front lines of governmental inefficiency and molding government reform actions around their collaboration.

The report is available here.

New York’s Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE)

Governor Cuomo created New York’s Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE) through Executive Order No. 4 in an effort to reform state government including its structure, operations and processes, lowering taxes, increasing accountability, and improving the delivery of governmental services.  SAGE is seeking a way to streamline, consolidate or eliminate government agencies, authorities, and commissions as well as all other over lapping government duties.  The SAGE Commission is responsible for reviewing the New York state government to seek different types of government reform that would accomplish its stated purpose.  During the review SAGE must provide recommendations that will result in a reduction of at least 20% of the existing New York agencies or authorities.

In December 2011, SAGE released the first set of their approved recommendations.  Under organizational and streamlining government entities SAGE recommends that various agencies in the transportation realm merge such as the Bridge Authority into the Thruway Authority.  Further, there should be shared services among the transportation agencies.  SAGE also recommends that lean management professionals are hired to establish the Office of Lean Management for New York State.  This office would conduct lean events and training sessions for New York agencies.  For operational improvements the Commission suggests that energy efficiency in governmental facilities is improved.

In order to improve and make government more efficient SAGE realized that a Performance Management System must be set in place as well as modernizing the public workforce through various improvements to the civil service process.

A summary of the SAGE recommendation is available here.

A detailed and informative presentation outlining the SAGE recommendations is available here.

State Government Privatization Reform: Examining the States

The Reason Foundation is a California based public policy think tank that, among other policy issues, conducts research on state government privatization and examines the public-private partnership models of various state governments.  Recently they have released their Annual Privatization Report 2010: State Government Privatization.   The report is a great resource for exploring state initiatives aimed at reforming state government and privatizing state government functions as a way to decrease government spending.  The following are examples of the content within the Reason Foundation’s annual report.

New Jersey’s Privatization Task Force

The Report highlights New Jersey’s efforts to reform government privatization policies by creating the New Jersey Privatization Task Force, which was established by Executive Order 17 under Governor Christie.  The Task Force reported to the Governor in 2010 outlining  various recommendations and identifying privatization opportunities available to New Jersey’s state government.  One recommendation is that the Governor should make it an administration priority to make private sector competition the standard for all state agencies and the creation of a centralized privatization entity.  Other recommendations and privatization opportunities identified by the task force include state parks management, state psychiatric hospitals, vehicle fleet maintenance and management, performance based highway maintenance, state parking facilities, water, printing services, workers compensation claim processing, toll collection, vehicle emissions inspections, higher education facility maintenance, correctional food services, hospital debt collection, golf corse management and housing and construction code enforcement.  The report also highlights that some of these recommendations have already been implemented by Governor Christie and the New Jersey State Legislature.

The Privatization Task Force report is available here

Louisiana’s Commission on Streamlining Government

Louisiana has implemented broad government reform efforts to increase public private partnerships by establishing the Commission on Streamlining Government (CSG).  The objective of the Commission is to recommend reform efforts that will reduce the cost of government through privatization, downsizing, and creating a more efficient government.  Recommendations include creating a state spending limit, shifting state retirement plans to 401K style and to reform state education financing to student based budgeting.  The full report includes over 200 recommendations for privatizing, streamlining, and downsizing state government.

The report is available here.

Puerto Rico’s Privatization Program

The Reason Foundation notes that in 2009 Puerto Rico enacted a law that allows state government agencies to enter into public-private partnerships with firms for the design, construction, finance, and maintenance of public facilities.  Furthermore, the law created the Public Private Partnership Authority (PPPA) which is a separate entity responsible for identifying and monitoring public private contracts as well as the enforcement of their terms.

Arizona and the Privatization of State Parks

In Arizona there is a proposal that would allow the state to privatize state parks by leasing them to Recreation Resource Management, which is one of the largest private park oversight companies in the United States.  By leasing the state parks through public-private partnership contracts the state would be able to reduce the cost of managing parks during a time when they are threatened by budget cuts.  Other states considering this model  include New Jersey, Utah, California, Georgia, and Kentucky.

The Arizona State Park Foundation has released a report “Arizona State Park privatization and Efficiency Plan” which lays out how such a privatization scheme would work and addresses the policy and financial details of the plan.

Reason’s Notable Privatization Highlights

The Reason report goes on to discuss the privatization of alcohol regulation, the Illinois program for the private management of the state lottery, California’s (and the United State’s) first privately financed courthouse, the privatization of worker compensation programs, and the privatization of Economic Development Agencies.

New York’s Mandate Relief Report and Mandate Relief Council

In January of 2011 Executive Order No. 6 created the Mandate Relief Redesign Team to explore solutions for unfunded mandates in New York.  The Mandate Relief Redesign Team issued its preliminary report in 2011 that provided recommendations to minimize and end the adverse affects that unfunded mandates place on local governments and school districts.

The Mandate Relief Redesign Team’s suggestions include prohibiting new unfunded mandates, requiring an independent cost analysis on all mandates, create a new pension tier to reduces mandate costs, reforming New York’s Wicks Law, give local governments greater flexibility to deal with current unfunded mandates, set in place full agency review of state mandates, and create a clearinghouse to continue solving the unfunded mandate problem.

The Mandate Relief Redesign Team’s Preliminary Report is available here.

The State of New York also passed legislation in 2011 aimed at reducing the amount of unfunded mandates.  The legislation adds language to the New York State Administrative Procedure Act (2011 N.Y. Session Laws ch.97 Sub. Part H §1).  The Council is designed to identify and review mandates that can be eliminated or reformed unless those mandates are federal mandates or eligibility standards, mandates that apportion the costs of activities between boards of educations and municipalities, those from the state constitution, or those that are necessary for the public health and safety of the people of New York.

There are many avenues the Council may take to review unfunded mandates.  One method allows local governments to seek the Council’s approval for an “alternative method of implementing a regulatory mandate by submitting [a petition] to the appropriate state agency…” The Council may also find that a mandate imposed on a local government is unsound, unduly burdensome, or too costly.  Then the Council may request a review of that mandate by the local government (with the appropriate agency covering all costs) which may result in the local government petitioning for a waiver, modification, or repeal of the mandate.  In addition, the Council has the power to refer a mandate to the governor for a repeal or modification.

The eleven member Council consists of the Secretary to the Governor (council chair), Counsel to the Governor, the Director of the Division of Budget, the Secretary of State, three members appointed from the governors executive chamber staff, two members appointed from the Temporary President of the Senate, and two appointed from the Speaker of the Assembly.

The legislation creating the Mandate Relief Council is available here.