In Columns by Hal PetersonLeave a Comment

Wouldn’t it be grand, if somehow, some one, in a leadership position in Albany could figure out a way to reduce the size of government, make it more efficient and save taxpayer’s of the state billions? At the moment, that individual is Governor Cuomo, who just announced the completion of a spending and efficiency commission study that will “transform a state government synonymous with clutter, waste and out-of-control spending to one that is modern, efficient and works for the taxpayers.” To quote Gomer Pyle, from the old Andy Griffith TV show, “G-o-l-l-y.”

The transformation suggested assumes the achievement of $421 million in savings gained thru workforce changes, $490 million in process improvements, $639 by rightsizing and consolidating facilities, and $575 million anticipated thru the merger of agencies or authorities. That’s, $1.6 billion my friends.

Doable!  One newspaper editor commented “Albany cleanup plans are long overdue…..and deserve attention….a billion here, and a billion there, a pretty soon you’re into real money.” The Public Employees Federation, representing 55,000 professional workers, considers the need to address “inefficiencies created by the existing civil service system” an argument for privatization. One individual mentioned the governor’s press release highlights some things that were really not part of the Commission’s work.

My own assessment! The $421 million workforce total is predicated on two improbable assumptions: $260 million in increased employee contributions to health care and another $161 million through the control of wage increases. Really!

The $490 million calculation assumes success in modernizing Information Technology infrastructure, converting landlines to Voice over Internet Protocol, email standardization, removing software no longer supportable and the acceleration of high return investment projects.

$639 million of the savings identified assume the closure of two prisons, juvenile justice facilities, deinstitutionalizing mental and developmental care facilities, re-stacking office space and improving procurement practices.

The $75 million total almost seems like an afterthought. The Executive Order issued in 2011 clearly called for the reduction of “at least twenty percent” of some 1,100 authorities and agencies with current spending in excess of $53 billion. That’s less than a half of one percent.

It is more than apparent good management practices and planning has been relegated to yet another day. Is anyone currently minding the store?

I challenge the governor and/or any of his minions’ to comment on this column, if they feel it unfairly or inaccurately misjudges expectations. I also suggest the issuance of quarterly reports to identify (and measure) what has been accomplished to reduce spending. To do less, would be disingenuous and an abrogation of responsibility. As usual, your comments can be posted on my web site www.reformalbanynowregistry.com. .


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