I consider last Thursday to have been the most exciting and rewarding days that I have experienced as a legislator.
On that day, I enjoyed the opportunity to chair hearings during which state government officials described the millions of dollars of savings that are now taking place and the efficiencies that are being instituted. This is occurring because of the passage of the legislation reform mentioned in previous updates.
Oklahoma’s Chief Information Officer explained that he has just started to effect the consolidation of state agency IT functions. In these agencies, the number of IT personnel has been reduced by 20
percent, computer server costs have been cut by 50 percent and in those few agencies alone, the state will save 170 million dollars over the next seven years.
The Communications Director for the Department of Education described how the consolidation has transformed his agency’s IT functions. The consolidation will save the department 3.5 million dollars over the next few years and is allowing them to provide better service to state taxpayers. Despite the significant reduction of costs, there have not been drop offs in service levels.
Probably one of the most exciting aspects of the presentation was the demonstration of the web-based performance metrics for the consolidated IT operation. Taxpayers can view the performance of IT employees, and agency officials can not only view these metrics but can drill down to the performance of a single individuals within the IT organization (see hd31.org/179 for an example). This allows for a tremendous amount of accountability and transparency and is a system that should be quickly duplicated within all of state government (this could be a major part of next year’s modernization legislation).
The Director of the Office of State Finance testified that he has already identified four million dollars of savings due to this year’s agency consolidation plan. This was really exciting to hear. Just 11 months ago, we presented this consolidation plan in the same type of House hearing. To see a plan go from development to implementation and then result in significant savings in this short of time is a vary rare experience in state government where reform normally occurs very slowly. And, nearly a quarter of this savings is just from the reduction of unnecessary administrative overhead and reducing the amount of space leased by the agencies.
Perhaps one of the most interesting components of the Director’s testimony was his description of an interaction he had with an employee from one of the consolidated agencies. The employee said that they had not been assigned enough work under the old system and expressed the desire to take on additional responsibilities.
The was a meaningful story for me. In debating against the consolidation legislation on the House floor, the political opposition attacked the proposal on the grounds that the bill would result in
fewer government jobs — which it will! I responded by explaining my belief that state employees are not asking for unnecessary or ghost jobs. They don’t want work just for the sake of work. They want to provide value to the taxpayers and they take pride in their work. They are not asking for a handout or an unnecessary job.
I believe these consolidations will empower state employees to provide taxpayers with better, more efficient services at a lower price. And it was most rewarding to see that reform is no longer moving at a snail’s pace, but is now being rapidly implemented.
Also, you may remember my accounting in a previous update of how a number of state agencies had not complied with the reporting requirements of the IT consolidation law. I wrote that I intended to enter the names of those agencies into the record of this hearing. Since that article, with the help of the Governor’s office, each and every state agency now appears to have come into compliance.
State Representative Jason Murphey
State Capitol Building – Room #437
2300 North Lincoln Blvd
Oklahoma City, OK 73105
1(405) 557-7350 (Office)
1(405) 315-5064 (Cell)