Here's one idea from Fred Morgan which I can really support the need for. There is very little continuity of oversight in our state agencies. Every May, in the waning hours of the long session; with bloodshot eyes our two chambers are presented with a "take it or shut it down" decision. Much of the money in the annual proposed budget has no specific earmark language tied to it. The Agencies take the money and do whatever level of serving the public that they decide is within their comfort zone.
I'm not at all certain that Morgan's recipe for selecting committee members is the right one? I'd prefer that the committee have a number of elected officials on it. I think some local government officials would also help give a good perspective. But these reviews should be completed BEFORE new money is appropriated for that government function.
But read his short synopsis and see what you think of it...
Agency review committee necessary
With a potential $800 million budget deficit, the Legislature faces a daunting task as we begin another legislative session. Perhaps it is the perfect time to consider new alternatives.
In 2015, the State Chamber of Oklahoma supported legislation to systematically analyze state business incentives to ensure the state is receiving an appropriate return on its investment.
The business community understands investment of resources requires measurable performance outcomes. It is time to closely examine state agency expenditures to guarantee every tax dollar spent on programs also produces measurable results. Too often government funded programs do not require measurement analytics to know whether they are actually achieving their intended legislative purpose.
In our political system, this is precisely the responsibility of government agencies with oversight by the Legislature. Unfortunately, time constraints, lack of expertise and staff and deference to agency directors often results in this critical duty being neglected. Questions such as “Do we still need this program?” or “Is this program producing its intended benefit or could this program be done more efficiently or left up to the private sector?” are seldom asked.
One potential solution to this significant dilemma is creation of an Agency Review Committee to examine every state agency. Similar to the Incentive Evaluation Commission, the committee would be composed of private sector members with business expertise with assistance from professional consultants. The committee would be charged with systematically reviewing state spending and submitting cost saving recommendations to the Legislature for consideration and action.
If adopted, this proposal would assist the Legislature in fulfilling its constitutional duty to protect the public purse and give the public more confidence that revenue-raising measures are truly needed.
Column by Fred Morgan, President and CEO of the State Chamber of Oklahoma - January 20, 2017