CTNewsJunkie file photo
Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and House Minority Leader Themis Klarides (CTNewsJunkie file photo)

It went largely unnoticed for almost a year until a reporter started asking questions about it, but the last member of the Efficiency Planning Task Force was finally appointed this week.

The task force was created as part of the budget mitigation package adopted by the General Assembly in December 2015. It was created to “identify and evaluate the efficiency of state services that, on average, cost the state more than two hundred fifty thousand dollars per recipient annually to provide.”

The task force, which has yet to meet because it was never fully constituted until this week, is expected to make recommendations to the General Assembly by Dec. 8, 2016.

Outgoing House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, was the last lawmaker to make his appointment to the task force.

“It took a while to find the right fit, and the Speaker has named Rep. Jeff Currey to the task force, and is confident Jeff will help the panel complete its mission,” Larry Perosino, a spokesman for Sharkey, said Tuesday.

Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, said the idea for the efficiency panel was put forth by Republicans last December as part of the party’s long-term initiatives to put the state on a sustainable path forward. He said his colleagues on the other side of the aisle included it in the budget mitigation package in order to make it look as if it was a bipartisan package, and then criticize Republicans who didn’t vote in favor of it.

“This just shows you that there was never any attempt to do an efficiency panel,” Fasano said.

House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said it’s ridiculous that the state even needs to constitute an panel to search for efficiencies in state government. She said managers should already be doing that.

It’s also ironic that legislative leaders aren’t efficient enough to make their appointments in time for this efficiency panel to find efficiencies, Klarides added.

At this point, no meetings of the panel have been scheduled.

According to the law, all eight members of the panel are legislators appointed by legislative leadership in both parties.

“The task force shall be composed of an equal number of Democrat and Republican members,” the law reads. “All appointments to the task force shall be made not later than thirty days after the effective date of this section.”

The Efficiency Planning Task Force envisioned by Republicans last year was expected to identify additional opportunities for nonprofit providers to assume services that are currently managed by the state. The panel would evaluate the services that cost the state more than $250,000 per person on an annual basis and the savings would then be used to increase the rates to the private provider community.

Sound familiar?

It sounds as if Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration went forward with the plan before the panel was formed. Last month, the Department of Developmental Services announced it would transition all developmentally and intellectually disabled individuals out of state care to private providers. Under the plan, 30 group homes will be converted to private operation by Jan. 1, 2017.

An estimated 416 state employees who worked in those group homes will be laid off as a result of the transition. That will bring the total number of state employees laid off in that agency up to 605 by the end of January 2017.