Those who have read these articles in the last few weeks may have noticed a common theme: a description of cost savings, complete with a reference to a comprehensive report that demonstrates these savings.
These cost savings reports were mandated by modernization legislation and revisited by the Government Modernization Committee during its recently concluded series of hearings.
Each report contains a very specific breakdown of savings resulting from reforms passed by the Legislature in recent years.
In years like this, legislators are likely fielding the question: "What is the Legislature doing to cut costs and become more efficient?"
These reports are the tool for giving very specific answers to this question. The existence of the reports shows we are following through with past reforms and holding state government to account so we can prove they are carrying out the reform effort.
The reporting requirement came about as we considered reforms to the state's purchasing procedures.
At that time, the relationship between the modernization-minded legislators and the state's central purchasing division was in transition from an initially confrontational stance to a cooperative one.
Central purchasing officials started working with us and they helped us write the laws to bring about the savings; however, we needed to know that they would follow through and actually implement the reforms.
Our solution was to require regular reporting to show the year over year savings. We could use the report to hold them accountable and to analyze the veracity of the savings estimate. Ever since, purchasing officials have appeared before our committee to testify about their latest report.
Each year, the amount of savings has grown.
The ongoing reporting process has kept the issue of purchasing reform alive and ongoing, years after the original reform. This brings constant awareness to the importance of reform.
Legislators are notorious for enacting reforms, only to walk back the reform as soon as a government agency or special interests group decides they don't want to come into compliance.
Because of these reports, when the inevitable attempts are made to unwind a modernization reform, we are now much better positioned to hold our ground and preserve the cost cutting effort.
The ongoing reports provide an institutional memory from which those who believe in reform can remind the other legislators of the savings and efficiencies brought about by the change.
In ensuing years, as we have worked on additional reforms, we have copied the policy of requiring a report and we now have an array of reports from which we can show the savings and the success of the various reforms.
It's an effective accountability tool that I strongly recommend should be utilized in all future reform efforts.