The Fate of 12 efficiency-saving recommendations

By: - July 3, 2005 9:32 am

Raleigh News & Observer

The Governor’s Commission to Promote Government Efficiency and Savings on State Spending made about 80 recommendations in its December 2002 report. Here is a sampling of the recommendations and the results.

1. ELIMINATE AUTOMATIC RAISES for Highway Patrol troopers, magistrates and some other court officials. There is no reason why certain categories of state workers should receive automatic pay increases, while most state employees do not, the commission found.

RESULT: No action. Subject of a legislative study commission.

2. END LONGEVITY PAY for state employees and replace with performance-based pay. The commission said compensation should be based on excellence, not tenure.

RESULT: No action. Subject of a legislative study commission.

3. REDUCE COSTS by obtaining consolidated bids for optional employee health benefits such as dental insurance, eliminating an inefficient system in which nearly every state agency solicits separate bids.

RESULT: No action yet. Legislation has been introduced.

4. INCREASE THE NUMBER OF YEARS employees must work for the state before they are eligible for state health insurance when they retire. It is now five, which is far more generous than what is typically provided in the private sector.

RESULT: No action yet. Legislation has been introduced.

5. REDUCE THE 40 PERSONNEL SYSTEMS in state government.

RESULT: The state personnel office disputes this, saying there are 16 different payroll systems. The University of North Carolina system said it began taking steps to consolidate its three personnel systems before the commission report, but it requires legislative action.

6. PRIVATIZE DIVISION OF MOTOR VEHICLES offices in Raleigh and Charlotte. The commission said private contractors have worked well across the state.

RESULT: No action. DMV officials say the high amount of use in North Carolina’s two largest cities make it more difficult to privatize.

7. SELL SURPLUS STATE PROPERTY, including state-owned homes along Raleigh’s Blount Street.

RESULT: The state is in the process of selling 25 houses in the Blount Street area. A commission has also been created to help sell other state property.

8. MODERNIZE the way the state oversees its computer system.

RESULT: Many of the improvements that were recommended have been accomplished.

9. EXTEND VEHICLE REGISTRATION from one year to two years and driver’s license renewal from five years to eight years to reduce the caseload at DMV offices.

RESULT: No action yet. A bill has passed the House, but not the Senate.

10. REDUCE THE SCOPE, size and number of state boards and commissions.

RESULT: No action. A study commission was created but has not met.

11. USE ZERO-BASE BUDGETING — the term for examining all existing programs, not just new spending proposals.

RESULT: No action yet. House Speaker Jim Black has proposed a committee to look at programs of the state Department of Public Instruction after the legislature adjourns.

12. TAKE STEPS TO AVOID PROGRAM DUPLICATION in the 16-campus University of North Carolina system.

RESULT: UNC says it is already doing that, noting that it has discontinued nearly 250 academic degree programs since 1995.

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Chris Fitzsimon

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina. [email protected] 919-861-2066