A legislative commission that’s been meeting for more than a year concluded its task last week by finding close to $229 million in savings by streamlining the operations of state agencies.
Created back in 2009 the Commission on Enhancing Agency Outcomes exceeded its charge of finding $50 million by Dec. 31 when it voted 12-1 to adopt a series of measures to dramatically reduce the number of non-union managers. It declined to make specific recommendations regarding the state’s unionized labor costs.
Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s representative on the commission voted against the final report because of the way it classified non-union managers within departments.
Michael Cicchietti, deputy secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, said he thinks some of the savings and numbers the commission applied toward the elimination of the middle managers was “arbitrary.”
He said if those numbers were accurate then the Attorney General’s office will need to eliminate 188 positions in order to achieve the savings cited in the report, but many of those positions aren’t managerial. He said the commission needs to look at the operation of the entire agency and not just its mid-level employees to arrive at a better, more accurate number.
The commission estimated that eliminating some of the middle manager positions would generated about $119 million in savings.
Rep. Craig Miner of Litchfield said the final report was “a lot less about the numbers in this document than it is about the ideas.”
He said none of these recommendations will actually be achieved by the legislature until they’re vetted by legislative committees during the session which begins Jan. 5.
“Our charge was to streamline government to find efficiencies and save money in doing that,” Sen. Gayle Slossberg of Milford said. “As we all know we have a significant deficit in our state and that even with the good work that we’ve done here there will be a lot more work that needs to be done.”
The budget deficit next year has been estimated at $3.67 billion by the legislature’s Office of Fiscal Analysis.
Rep. James Spallone of Essex, who co-chaired the commission with Slossberg, said the savings identified should be applied regardless of whether the state has a deficit or a surplus.
“This work is important whether we’re in good or bad times financially,” Spallone said.
Sen. Gary LeBeau of East Hartford said he understands the job of identifying these savings wasn’t “sexy,” but it’s what everyone talked about on the campaign trail and he wishes there was more media attention being given to the commission.
The final report will be given to Gov.-elect Dan Malloy and his Budget Director Ben Barnes, in addition to all the legislature’s committee chairs, once those chairmanships are announced by legislative leaders.
Among the recommendations approved were to:
·Engage in more aggressive efforts to transition senior care out of nursing homes and into assisted home care
·Find savings through cooperative purchasing and reverse online auctioning
·Encourage greater generic prescription drug use, and change management of the state’s prescription drug program for low-income individuals to a third-party system
·Enhance community prevention and intervention efforts in the Department of Children and Families
·Restore the State Contracting Standards Board and other entities charged with reviewing contracts and identifying waste
·Reduce energy costs by 10 percent
·Expand tax auditing and enforcement to pursue delinquent accounts
·Consolidate back-office human resources functions in the state’s various human services agencies
·Reduce postage usage and convert business entity filing to electronic methods