With the announcement by Speaker Lance Cargill of House efforts to modernize government, OPEA leadership expressed its interest in several of the concepts.
“We have met on numerous occasions with the Speaker as well as members of his leadership team and expressed our support of modernization efforts related to technological updates as well as efforts to reform the state’s purchasing system,” said OPEA executive director Sterling Zearley. “OPEA is certainly for having an efficient state government and our members are some of the best at pointing to areas that could be improved.”
“Our state prisons are a perfect example,” said Zearley. “Outdated prisons or prisons that are converted mental hospitals or old hotels are not efficient nor modern. These facilities should have been replaced years ago. The state’s dependence on private prison vendors is also a dangerous practice that promotes inefficiency and waste. When the state lacks bedspace for prisoners, there simply is no way private prison vendors are forced to competitively bid. The Oklahoma Department of Corrections house inmates cheaper and more efficiently. The legislature should invest in more public beds.”
Zearley also mentioned the upcoming hearings on the Iowa Charter Agency system. “There are several areas in this proposal that appeal to OPEA. The idea of giving state agencies more flexibility in hiring and the number of FTE’s needed is certainly something we have been advocating.”
“OPEA is certainly not advocating that any agency be allowed to move away from the Merit System, but there are areas of common interest that we could agree upon,” said Zearley.
“While deregulation and reducing red tape can be beneficial, OPEA is certainly not advocating that any agency be allowed to move away from the Merit System,” concluded Zearley. “There are areas of common interest that we could agree upon.”
Iowa Charter Agencies
Below is information from Iowa on the Iowa Charter Agency model.
Charter Agencies pioneer a new, bureaucracy-busting “deal.” They volunteer to be accountable for measurable customer benefits and contribute savings/revenue. In return the State exempts them from many bureaucratic requirements.
Why Charter Agencies? What’s the problem with the way we do things now?
When agencies truly focus on results, they often run up against rigid procedure-based rules and regulations that focus more on how government does things than on the outcomes government produces. The purpose of this initiative is to test the following hypothesis: given greater authority and operating flexibility, Charter Agencies will be able to produce better outcomes for their customers at less cost than under the standard bureaucratic system.
Charter Agencies waste less time and money on paperwork and low-value-added rule compliance. They redirect that energy into innovation to achieve the results Iowans most value. Instead of relying on the Governor’s Office and the Department of Management to drive change and improvement, the Charter Agency deal kindles automatic, ongoing improvement from within each agency.
Charter Agency Solution
In the Charter Agency “deal,” which can be applied at any level of government, Charter Agencies voluntarily commit to:
- Produce measurable benefits – and improvements in those benefits – for the people they serve.
- Help close the current year’s budget gap, through contributed savings or additional entrepreneurial revenues. Charter Agencies must collectively come up with at least $15 million each year.
In return, Charter Agencies receive:
- Authority to “stand in the shoes” of the directors of personnel, general services, and IT. Whatever those directors can do, a Charter Agency director can do – without going through personnel, general services, or IT.
- Authority to waive administrative rules in the same three areas: personnel, general services, and IT.
- Authority to retain: proceeds from asset sales, 80% of new revenues generated, and half of their year-end general fund balance.
- Exemption from full-time-equivalent employee caps.
- Exemption from statutory across-the-board budget cuts.
- Authority to purchase travel tickets directly instead of using the state’s travel contractor.
- Exemption from seeking Executive Council approval for out-of-state travel, conference attendance, and professional memberships.
- Access to technical assistance at no charge from experts on innovation and public entrepreneurship.
- Access to a $3 million Charter Agency grant fund to foster innovation.
- A special process for waiving other administrative rules.
- And more . . .