Streamlining government

Published 11:03 am Tuesday, November 13, 2012

By SLADE BLACKWELL / Guest Columnist

One of my top priorities in Montgomery right now is the streamlining government initiative. The primary goal is to maximize each taxpayer dollar by making our state government more efficient. Last year, I was proud to sponsor the ONE SPOT bill to allow businesses to pay multiple county taxes at one time online.

This was a direct result of the streamlining government effort by our legislature. This year, we will focus on three aspects of state government including public safety, information technology and health and human services. That effort is projected to result in millions of dollars in savings for the state.

-Public Safety: Conservative cost-savings estimates show a potential savings of $260 million over 10 years by consolidating more than 20 agencies with law enforcement or investigative missions down to seven — compared to an average number of five in other neighboring states. Legislation related to this plan will be introduced during the 2013 legislative session.

-Information technology: The study on IT is ongoing but should be completed within the next month and we anticipate addressing this issue in the upcoming legislative session.

The group studying IT was charged with analyzing the state’s overall IT functions and capabilities in order to identify areas to improve efficiency.

They will also provide recommendations for streamlining any areas of IT that would result in lower costs, greater efficiencies and enhanced accountability.

For instance, they were charged with analyzing opportunities to consolidate IT infrastructure services in state government, identifying opportunities to enhance IT financial accountability, and best practices from other states that have consolidated IT governance, infrastructure and workforce.

-Health and human services: The health and human services study is expected to kick off within the next month.

This group will be tasked with looking at the state’s various health and human services functions to identify areas of inefficiencies and duplications.

They, too, will provide recommendations for streamlining any functions that prove to result in enhanced accountability and lower costs to taxpayers. The group will also work to identify best practice models of health and human services delivery systems for potential implementation in Alabama.

This is only a small fraction of what we can do to streamline state government operations. I look forward to finding more ways in which we can reduce costs to the state while also making government more efficient and effective.

Slade Blackwell is serving his first term in the Alabama State Senate representing Jefferson and Shelby Counties in District 15.