HARTFORD, CT – Late Friday evening after holding a press conference outside the state Capitol, Gov. Ned Lamont announced via press release that he had re-hired Boston Consulting Group to conduct a $2 million study of state government.
The study is expected to be completed next February and it was awarded after a competitive bidding process.
The Massachusetts firm, which recently held another $2 million contract with the state to help with Connecticut’s reopening plan, will evaluate the state’s workforce in anticipation of a significant number of retirements by 2022.
“It has been 10 years since the last time we studied our workforce, and a lot has changed over the past decade,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “We have had two significant labor agreements, the effects of a lingering recession and slow recovery, and we are in the midst of a global pandemic and its resulting economic fallout, combined with the simple fact that our state employees are getting older and as many as 25% are eligible for retirement.”
The awarding of the contract prompted criticism from lawmakers.
House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, R-Derby, said any attempt to find savings is a “good thing,” but she was quick to point out that in order to find those savings the governor “intends to pay an out-of-state consultant to find budget savings that his administration could not.”
Klarides also questioned the timing of the announcement.
“The timing of this announcement is curious: It comes on a late Friday afternoon, a little more than one month before the election on Nov. 3. What do you think Democrats will propose on taxes and spending if they continue to control all the levers of state government?” Klarides added.
The 2017 bipartisan budget agreement included language asking the administration to study the workforce. Former Gov. Dannel P. Malloy never went out to bid for the contract because he felt the next governor should make the decision.
“Starting with 2017 legislation that requested OPM secure a consultant to identify cost savings and continuing through the alarming retirement data we have received from our actuaries, it is clear and obvious we are facing the possibility of thousands of state employees retiring over the course of the next year and we need to prepare,” Office of Policy and Management Secretary Melissa McCaw said.
With an estimated 25% of the state workforce eligible to retire by 2022, the Lamont administration is looking to prevent what the governor has been calling the “silver tsunami.”
“We need to be able to accurately assess and prepare for the magnitude of these potential retirements, the loss of the relevant expertise, the subsequent impact on state government, and how we can emerge stronger in the delivery of services to ensure the continuity of effective government as the next generation of leaders assumes the mantle,” McCaw said. “I look forward to working with BCG on this study and subsequent report and tackling the undoubtedly tough challenge that lies ahead.”
The idea to hire a consultant to look at the workforce and state spending started with the 14-member Commission on Fiscal Stability and Economic Growth, headed by Robert Patricelli and Jim Smith.
A modified report released by the group in 2018 said Connecticut should hire a consultant to find $1 billion in budget savings.
Boston Consulting Group is not necessarily being hired to find budget savings, but the Lamont administration cited the 2017 budget agreement, which asked the administration to hire a national consultant, “to help the state identify efficiency opportunities.”
“The goal of the project is to generate recommendations about how best to mitigate the risk of the potential retirements and use the opportunity to modernize and improve how state government provides its critical services to Connecticut residents while reducing cost,” according to the press release.