Saturday, June 4, 2016

From the Frontline: What If?

by Lt Gov. Tim Griffin: What if I told you that we have a way to grow more jobs and lower the tax-burden on hardworking Arkansans? What if I told you that Arkansas has a long-term solution to funding highways and education? What if I told you that the solution does not involve raising taxes? What would you say? You would probably say, “What is it?” and “Let’s do it!” The solution to many of our state’s biggest problems is to reduce the revenue required to fund our government through government reorganization and reform, and it is available to us now.

Government reorganization includes my office. I am pleased to announce that the Joint Budget Committee unanimously approved my budget for the Office of Lieutenant Governor during the recent fiscal session. My budget reduced the number of staff positions by 25%, and reduced the overall budget for the office by 15%. Each day, my office strives to serve more and spend less.

I got a glimpse of what government reform could look like in state agencies when I conducted my review of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS). In December 2015, I accepted Governor Hutchinson’s invitation to lead an organizational review of DHS and provide him with recommendations. DHS provides critical services to some of the most vulnerable Arkansans, and its employees perform valuable work—especially the DHS employees working on the front lines in local offices across the state. Yet, even the best employees are hampered by antiquated organizational structures, managerial obstacles, unacceptably poor internal communications, waste, mismanagement, and duplication of work.

Beginning in early January, I personally met with and interviewed over 185 people in DHS offices across the state, including current and former DHS employees, elected officials and their staff members, and concerned constituents. On March 4, 2016, I provided my “Core DHS Recommendations” to Governor Hutchinson, including:
  • Reorganize DHS by adopting an organizational approach that integrates the delivery of human services and focuses on the needs of the Arkansan, the client. An integrated approach eliminates the silos created by divisions that fail to communicate with one another to ensure the client receives the best individualized combination of services for his or her specific needs.
  • Strengthen the role of the DHS Chief Financial Officer (CFO) by giving the CFO managerial control over all division CFOs.
  • Adopt comprehensive reform of personnel laws relating to pay, hiring, firing, rewarding and disciplining of employees and the grievance process with the goal of recruiting, training and retaining productive employees and providing a career ladder for them to progress.
  • Implement a computer system platform that employs a centralized intake to share data across all services provided.
A full list of my recommendations can be found here. Because the Governor asked me to focus on the organizational structure of DHS, my recommendations do not focus on Medicaid policies or specific policies of each DHS division. DHS has already implemented some of my recommendations, and that's a great start.

The good news is that we have an opportunity to reorganize all of state government in a bold, innovative, and comprehensive way that puts a premium on customer service. The problems I identified in DHS are reflective of problems in many other government offices and agencies, and the institutional knowledge I gained during my review of DHS will allow me to more zealously advocate for holistic and taxpayer-focused reform throughout state government.

So, why is government reform important?
  • First, government officials have a moral obligation to spend your taxpayer dollars wisely.
  • Second, Arkansans deserve a state government that is more efficient and effective.
By reforming government, we can cut waste, save money, and invest your tax dollars where they are most needed. As I have done since my first day in office, I will continue to personally meet with Arkansans who are interested in reforming state government. My door is always open.

Tags: Arkansas, Lt. Governor, Tim Griffin, From the Frontline, What If, government reform To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". This site is an Outreach of the ARRA News Service.

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