Story Details

SALT LAKE CITY – An independent analysis confirms that while State government is already well-managed, opportunities exist for significant immediate and long-term savings.

The Utah Advisory Commission to Optimize State Government, a coalition of public officials and community and business leaders, presented its final report to Governor Gary R. Herbert at a Thursday news conference at the Utah State Capitol.

Ultimately, the Commission returned 56 recommendations that, if fully implemented, would result in approximately $10 million in immediate annual savings. More important, however, are forward looking recommendations that could ultimately net hundreds of millions of dollars in savings to the State of Utah and its taxpayers.

“I have been pleased to discover how efficiently the State of Utah is already run,” said Commission vice chairman Fraser Bullock, managing partner and co-founder of Sorenson Capital and Chief Executive Officer of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. “The most immediate savings have already been realized through recent, responsible budgeting by State agencies. Our recommendations are focused on the long-term, finding ways to improve processes and set up a construct where Utah taxpayers will recognize significant savings over time.”

Governor Herbert created the Commission in September 2009, asking former Governor Norm Bangerter to serve as Commission chairman. Bullock, Charlie Johnson and Nolan Karras served as vice chairmen.

Governor Herbert tasked the group to take a “broad-based, independent look at current governmental processes and spending.” Members of the Commission participated on a volunteer basis, donating their time and expertise to the effort.

“After thorough and careful review, one thing is clear: Utah State Government is wellmanaged. It is lean. Overall, Utahns can rest assured that their tax dollars are being spent efficiently and effectively,” the report states. “But in these difficult economic times … everyone must learn to do more with less.”

In reaching its recommendations, the Commission focuses on five “critical areas of opportunity.” They are:

1. Restructure State Government to Drive Continued Efficiency Improvement
2. Systematically Change the Mix Between State Employee Salary and Benefits to
Better Reflect Private Sector Practices
3. Leverage Technology in Education to Lower Costs and Improve Outcomes
4. Develop and Implement a Strategic Plan for Managing Prison Populations
5. Combat Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Through a Statewide Recovery Audit Initiative

Among other things, the Commission suggests migrating state employee pensions to a direct contribution system, expanding the use of online courses and textbooks in education, providing increased resources to inmate programming to reduce recidivism and hiring independent auditors to analyze transactions in Medicaid and other State programs.

The report also includes examples of optimization and cost-cutting measures that have been implemented by State agencies over the past several years.

“State agencies have already taken steps to maximize existing resources,” the report states. “Over the past several years, many agencies have taken innovative and creative steps to increase efficiency.”

Examples of these best practices include consolidation within and between departments, increased use of technology and automation, and increased use of partnerships between state agencies and private entities.

Governor Herbert on Thursday thanked the Commission members for their hard work and dedication to the State of Utah.

“I look forward to reading this report, and adopting recommendations that will allow the great State of Utah to continue to be the leader when it comes to good management, discipline and fiscal responsibility,” the Governor said. “Utahns deserve to know their tax dollars are being spent wisely. Efficiency and fiscal responsibility is something all Utahns should demand of their state government.”

The Commission’s final report is available online at http://governor.utah.gov and http://performance.utah.gov/optimization.shtml.

If you found this news piece interesting, please consider sharing it through your social network.