“Good housekeeping always involves throwing out some junk.” This statement was the response of a friend as he replied to last week’s article about the need for repealing old laws. His statement has application far beyond the discussion of repealing old laws.
Like many people, state government has a tendency to stash away lots of “junk”. Whether they seek to maintain an inventory of useless personal and consumable properties or seek to oversee a physical empire of real properties, government bureaucrats are sometimes very reluctant to give up control — even when that control involves wasting thousands of your taxpayer dollars in maintenance and storage costs.
Several years ago, the State Treasurer commissioned a report. His report documented the propensity for state agencies to hoard junk they did not need.
After this report, I joined with the Speaker of the House in touring one of the state warehouse facilities. Upon observing the scale of the problem, he compared the warehouse to the closing scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Though state taxpayers would probably benefit from the discovery of the Ark of the Covenant in a state government warehouse, we knew we had to take action.
Our subsequent government modernization effort contained a key tenet: state government should own less stuff.
I was reminded of the importance of this concept as part of a recent update from those who are unifying state government’s information technology assets.
State IT officials are nearing an extremely important milestone in this effort. They are at the point where they can assess true IT costs on an agency-by-agency basis.
Until now, many IT employees have been siloed or divided off within each agency. For example, an IT employee who works at the Department of Human Services can’t provide his skills to the Department of Corrections even though his expertise is badly needed at Corrections.
When we approved the plan for the unification, we did so with the expectation that IT employees could serve all agencies. A consultant’s report showed the massive inefficiency of a state government that had divided itself into many different IT fiefdoms with the result of millions in waste.
Now we have reached the time when our vision of a single, efficient IT entity is possible. With this step, another 7 million dollars of savings are expected to be added to the millions of already-existing savings from this initiative.
Where are these savings coming from?
As they prepare for the change, IT officials are carefully assessing and documenting the existing IT assets and processes.
They are finding old unnecessary IT processes that are redundant or add little value to the agency that has been keeping them active. These are the “just because” processes that are happening “just because we have always done them.”
The IT unification is bringing the existence of these processes to light and is allowing the state agencies to see their true cost. Once the costs are exposed, they are choosing to turn off the “just because” processes to save money.
I believe this is just one example of the many unnecessary processes and spending occurring all throughout state government. It also demonstrates the importance of good housekeeping practices that throw out some of the junk.
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.