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2/24/12 Group Watch: Trimming Down

Most newly elected governors form task forces to look at streamlining state government. The reports are beautifully bound and distributed to the members of the task force and then begin to collect dust. In the recent budget submitted to the Legislature, Governor Bentley framed his budget proposal in the context of consolidation. In the executive branch, the Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention and the Office of Special Needs were merged into the Department of Human Resources. The Department of Labor is proposed to be under the much larger Department of Industrial Relations. Legislative leaders are reportedly looking at consolidating the dozens of licensure boards into a Department of Licensure and Regulatory Services. Many realize that any changes will result in long-term savings but no immediate windfall. Most staff reductions would be achieved over time through attrition and retirement. Procedures currently in place governing reductions in force could easily take 18 to 24 months to exhaust. The shortfall in state revenue is equally daunting and will not correct itself in the near term, and no one in town seems to expect any revenue bills to pass. So, like it or not, streamlining to some extent is likely.

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