Sunday, July 31, 2005
State needs performance
SC Statehouse Report
31, 2005 - - South Carolina government could save millions
of dollars a year and become more efficient, effective and
responsive to taxpayers if it invested in a permanent office
to review agency performance.
It's working in other states. So why can't it work here?
Starting in 1991, Texas institutionalized a permanent performance
review process that has generated dozens of reports and saved
billions of dollars. Now called Strategic Policy Initiatives,
it is a division of the Texas Comptroller's Office and focuses
on reviews of government agencies, programs and operations,
and recommends improvements to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Over the last three years in New Mexico, Gov. Bill Richardson
hired outside consultants to work with government employees
to identify savings and figure out ways for agencies to operate
better. In a state that has about half of the budget of South
Carolina, the project delivered two reports with more than
130 recommendations for $500 million in savings over five
years. Lawmakers have implemented more than 80 of 92 recommendations
in the first report and reaped about $75 million in efficiencies
and savings in the first year.
S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford called for a similar process with
his MAP Commission (Measurement, Accountability and Performance)
study at the beginning of his term. Unlike the Texas and New
Mexico reports, however, the South Carolina study was run
by business people, not experts in the field of performance
reviews. While they identified millions of savings, some of
the conclusions drawn were hard to replicate because they
provided inadequate documentation or source data.
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In other words, Sanford was onto a good idea, but it was
done "on the cheap," which produced results that
weren't as helpful as if professionals had done the work.
That being said, the governor was onto something. Buried
in last year's executive budget was a recommendation to spend
$400,000 for a new office called the State Inspector General
to look for "waste, fraud and abuse" in executive
agencies. Similarly, a House restructuring bill (H. 3009)
calls for a similar office, but estimates annual expenses
could reach $1.1 million to do it right.
As one of the consultants who participated in one of the
New Mexico studies, it's heartening to see South Carolina
want to invest in a process to review how agencies are performing
because such oversight encourages optimal functioning. However,
it seems South Carolina policymakers are missing the point
with the way they're defining the proposed process.
The House bill and governor's proposal focus on a new oversight
agency to review "waste, fraud and abuse," a term
that has become a political cliché. Both call for a
state inspector general for six years to be appointed by the
governor and approved by the Senate. Both suggestions have
First, focusing on waste, fraud and abuse is setting a negative
mission for a new agency. It highlights a belief that the
framers of the new job assume there are millions of dollars
of waste, fraud and abuse with state money and that they'll
root it out. In reality, however, budget cuts over the last
few years have trimmed a lot of the fat in state agencies.
In reality, gargantuan sums of state money are not being wasted
by state agencies. Because their resources have been cut over
and over, they can't afford to waste lots of money.
A better solution to this problem is to make the mission
of a new agency focus on improving performance, highlighting
efficiencies, identifying best practices and finding ways
to improve customer services for taxpayers. In other words,
define the new agency with a positive mission, as was done
in Texas and as was the overarching theme behind New Mexico's
Second, by putting the agency under the governor's control,
there's a strong likelihood the agency itself could be abused
politically as a hammer to nail any state operation a governor
didn't like. Lawmakers should consider another structure that
creates a non-partisan Inspector General's office that uses
outside professionals to conduct independent, verifiable reviews
of key agencies.
If the state invested $1 million a year in a new independent
Inspector General's office, it likely can reap $100 million
annually in efficiencies, improving customer service and boosting
performance of state agencies. And, of course, it will be
able to find any "waste, fraud and abuse" that does,
in fact, exist.
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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7/29: Hypocrisy among morality police
A few months ago, State Senator Chip Campsen sought to pass
legislation enacting criminal penalties against clergy who
conduct marriage ceremonies for same-sex partners on the stated
basis that there is no point in making something a crime unless
penalties are enacted to prevent the crime from occurring.
This is part of a Statewide (and maybe Regional or National)
trend to legislate morality. But, somehow those who are trying
to come up with new and sundry ways to criminalize acts which
offend their moral sensibilities are ignoring the fact that
we already have laws on the books of this nature that are
rarely (if ever enforced). For example:
SC Code Ann. § 16-15-60 (1976, as amended) titled Adultery
or fornication provides:
Any man or woman who shall be guilty of
the crime of adultery or fornication shall be liable to
indictment and, on conviction, shall be severally punished
by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars nor more
than five hundred dollars or imprisonment for not less than
six months nor more than one year or by both fine and imprisonment,
at the discretion of the court.
SC Code Ann. § 16-15-80 provides, "Fornication"
is the living together and carnal intercourse with each other
or habitual carnal intercourse with each other without living
together of a man and woman, both being unmarried.
Former Lt. Governor Bob Peeler has admitted that he committed
adultery. And while Governor Sanford's [former] Spokesperson
Will Folks has denied that he committed Domestic Abuse, evidence
suggests that he is guilty of the crime of fornication. So
why isn't Campsen calling for the prosecution of the former
Lt. Governor and Mr. Folks? Could it be because they are white,
male, Republican, heterosexual Conservatives?
Mr. Peeler has been quoted as saying that his situation is
a private matter. And well he should given that
he would apparently be facing multiple counts of adultery
if the applicable law were applied strictly. Maybe he would
be interested in helping repeal this silly law and in convincing
Senator Campsen not to try to enact any more silly laws.
-- Name withheld upon request, Summerville,
for math and common sense, Paula Richardson, Britton's
credit rating is red flag, Bob Logan, Little
should focus on real problems, Donna Crile, Myrtle
to do more about poverty, Earl Capps, Ladson,
school would help on St. Helena Island, Tom
Hatfield, Hilton Head Island, SC
program addresses Pee Dee poverty, Tammy Pawloski,
Professor of Education, Francis Marion University, Florence,
approach on prosperity, Laura Morris, Mount
can we let poverty happen, Nancy Kolman, Pawley's Island,
residents need equal representation, Gene Deragon,
Jasper working together, Rep. Bill Herbkersman,
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report
with other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
service has one master, not two:
"While all of this has
been going on, some members of the Santee Cooper board
(i.e., Gov. Sanford's appointees) have become increasingly
activist in nature. Charges are flying that board members
are micromanaging on everything from corporate contributions
and power contracts to working intimately on a privatization
"Santee Cooper's struggles should
serve as a reminder to members of state governing boards
that public service requires them to carry out two duties.
First, there's a "duty of care," which calls
for board members to ensure an organization is running
effectively and efficiently. (This gives an entrée
for meddling.) But board service also carries a "duty
of loyalty," which means members must serve the
interests of the organization over interests of anyone
else, such as a governor."
In The Post and Courier
Cooper directors, governor blamed in report.
"A bipartisan panel of five state senators was
scheduled to release a report this morning saying Santee
Cooper board members repeatedly and recklessly mismanaged
the state-owned utility for more than two years, capping
a months-long investigation that included 22 hours of
hearings and about 10,000 pages of e-mails and documents.
"The statement, written by Sen.
Luke Rankin, said bullying by a few rogue board members
jeopardized the power company's stellar credit rating
and could have been costly for taxpayers and the utility's
customers and bondholders. The report also said those
directors deflated morale at the utility while pursuing
a political agenda for Gov. Mark Sanford, who appointed
them to their posts."
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Lee. Hats off for the public service of Rep. Brenda
Lee, who resigned this week for a state job.
Wilson, Brown, Inglis, Barrett. It's a shame that
South Carolina's Republican congressmen didn't have the backbone
to stand up for American workers by voting for the bad CAFTA
agreement. Just this week, a study
showed hundreds of thousands of Southerners lost jobs due
to CAFTA's older brother, NAFTA.
HHS. The state may cut Medicaid benefits for the state's
poorest that might affect one in five South Carolinians. More.
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