Christine Stuart photo

Sidetracked by the state budget crisis earlier this year, the now 17-member Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes regrouped Monday to brainstorm ways to streamline state government.

The commission created in February has only met a handful of times, but are ready to get down to business to make state government “smarter and more efficient.”

“It may sound extremely daunting going forward, but I think we have an exciting opportunity ahead of us,” Sen. Gayle Slossberg, D-Milford, said.

While Slossberg warned there will be no “quick answers,” the current two-year budget asks the commission to find $3 million in savings in 2010 and $50 million in savings in 2011.

To that end the commission released this list of 33 preliminary ideas. The list includes everything from moving non-violent prisoners with mental illness into the community for an annual savings of $17 million to requiring direct deposit for all state payroll checks.

Rep. Craig Miner, R-Litchfield, said maybe the commission should consider saving $1 million by not hiring part-time employees during the legislative session. He said that’s a decision that needs to be made fairly quickly because the start of the legislative session is approaching.

William Cibes, former Gov. Lowell P. Weicker Jr.‘s budget secretary, said he liked recommendation no. 21, which would allow residents to use the Internet to apply for licenses and permits. In addition, Cibes suggested the state look into using Google to enhance its information technology functions. Cibes says 50 percent of state governments use Google in this way.

Rep. Mary Mushinsky, D-Wallingford, suggested the state create some sort of reward system for state agencies and employees who find federal funds that are available. She also suggested looking at ideas the National Conference of State Legislators has already put forward.

The commission will meet again in two weeks to refine the list and the public will be invited to submit their own comments online or in person at the commission’s January meeting.

“The public are the consumer of our services and they often have the best ideas,” Slossberg said.

The commission’s initial report is due to the governor and General Assembly by Feb. 1.