Sunday, April 29, 2007

Hey batter batter Suhwing Batter

So what major league baseball teams are set in the mold of the Cost Cutting Caucus? Ones that win with lower payrolls. It's called value.


Where is Minnesota these days? And how about those Yankees - only $200 million a year for a 10-14 record. Nice.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Unit Costs

While the CCC has been working on these Operational Review Teams trying to find ways to reduce costs within government, I had a question that I would like to throw out there for discussion.

Should the CCC support legislation or policies that will help bring down per unit cost of goods and services that the government uses? Your first reaction might be "DUH. Of course you should." However, this might take us into areas of economic and capital market interest.

For instance, in order to bring down the cost of energy to Virginia government, should we support legislation and groups that are trying to open up offshore resources or develop our energy infrastructure that would end up saving us a considerable amount of money(taxes)?

I think I know where I am personally on this, but I would like some input. Have at it.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Now get back to work!

Return To Work Operational Review Team


Examine disability management practices across the Commonwealth
Understand the impact of time lost because of disabilities
Recommend best practice strategies to safely retain employees on the job and safely return employees with disabilities to work

Legislative Co-Chairs:

The Honorable Jay O’Brien, Senate of Virginia
The Honorable Rosalyn Dance, House of Delegates

Private Sector :


Team Objectives:

Identify current return to work management practices.
Identify agency and industry best practices for reducing the impact of lost time on productivity.
Benchmark current practices to best practices.
Recommend appropriate best practice strategies, resources to implement strategies and appropriate performance metrics to measure progress.

Interim Team Recommendations:

Need for:

Program training for all levels of state agency management and all covered employees.
Communications and Systems Integration.
Enhanced medical community understanding of their role in successfully returning employees to work.
Agency accountability for managing lost time.

Anonymity is back!

Feel free to post anonymously on the CCC blog. Please keep the dialogue constructive as always.

That IS a lot of energy!

Energy Use Operational Review Update

Energy use and management is significant management cost and responsibility for all state agencies. Last fiscal year, Virginia state government spent approximately $240 million to provide energy for state facilities and approximately $40 million for transportation fuels. Energy use therefore is one of the crosscutting operational reviews of state operation we are undertaking.

We set up an Energy Use Operations Review Team to look at best practices in private business and government and existing practices in Virginia state government, and is developing recommendations that will reduce energy costs in state operations. Delegate Harvey Morgan and Senator Emmett Hanger oversee the team’s work. The Governor’s Senior Advisor for Energy Policy is coordinating the team’s work. Team members include representatives from the Department of Rehabilitation Services, the Department of General Services, Virginia Military Institute, and Virginia Tech

Governor Tim Kaine also issued Executive Order 48 (2007) on April 5, 2007, addressing energy efficiency in state government. This EO sets out a goal for executive branch agencies and institutions to reduce the annual cost of non-renewable energy purchases by at least 20 percent by fiscal year 2010. This will help to reduce the environmental consequences of that level of energy consumption and save taxpayer dollars. The EO directs state government to use proven and innovative conservation technologies and energy procurement processes.

The Energy Use Operational Review team has reached out to outside experts for information on best practices. The team has talked with representatives from Wal-Mart, Food Lion, Meade Westvaco, the federal Energy Star Program, and the Federal Energy Management Program. The team also has gathered information on existing practices, strengths and weaknesses, in state operations, and ideas for improvement from representatives of the Department of General Services, Department of Corrections, University of Virginia, Office of Telework Promotion and Broadband Assistance, Department of Accounts, Department of Planning and Budget, Department of Human Resource Management, Department of Rail and Pubic Transit, and Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy

The team found that we are using many best practices in parts of state operations. A few areas of note include coordinated purchasing of energy and fuels through private energy marketers and centralized state purchase agreements, widespread use of energy savings performance contracting, training facility managers for energy management, and use of agency transit incentive programs.

The team has identified a few new or expanded use of best practices, including, better coordination of energy management functions across agencies and institutions, expanded use of coordinated purchasing of utilities and fuels, particularly natural gas, participation in PJM Interconnection program demand control programs, broader use of building commissioning and re-commissioning, certification and more widespread training of and coordination among agency energy managers, constructing new buildings and major renovations to LEED or Energy Star standards, and purchase of Energy Star equipment wherever available.

The Energy Use Operational Team is drafting its full set of recommendations from this review. We welcome additional advice and input from readers of the VACostCutting blog. Please share your ideas with the folks at the Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy who are providing support to this study. Please send you ideas to me at Please label your e-mails “Energy Use Savings from VACostCutting blog” so we can know the ideas are coming from blog readers.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Adding it all up

Some interesting information compiled by the Republican Policy Committee and the Tax Foundation.

In the IRS’ own estimation, the average time burden for all taxpayers filing a 1040 is 30 hours.

According to the President’s Panel on Tax Reform, “since the last major reform effort in 1986, there have been more than 14,000 changes to the tax code, many adding special provisions and targeted tax benefits, some of which expire after only a few years.”

More than 6 in 10 Americans now hire someone to help prepare their returns every year.

For tax season 2005, businesses and non-profits spent an estimated 6.4 billion hours complying with the federal income tax code, with an estimated compliance cost of over $265.1 billion. This amounts to imposing a 22-cent tax compliance surcharge for every dollar the income tax system collects. Projections show that the compliance cost will grow to $482.7 billion by 2015.

Businesses bore the majority of tax compliance costs in 2005, totaling nearly 56 percent of total compliance costs. Compliance costs for individuals were 42 percent, and non-profits’ compliance costs were nearly 2.5 percent of the total.

When examined by income level, compliance cost is found to be highly regressive, taking a larger toll on low-income taxpayers as a percentage of income than high-income taxpayers.

On the low end, taxpayers with adjusted gross income (AGI) under $20,000 incur a compliance cost equal to 5.9 percent of income while the compliance cost incurred by taxpayers with AGI over $200,000 amounts to just 0.5 percent of income.

American taxpayers are in need of a tax system based on long-standing
criteria: equity, economic efficiency, and a combination of simplicity, transparency, and workability.

Cross post at AFP-VA Blog.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Start your engines! Fleet ORT Report.

Fleet Management Operational Review Team
April 16, 2007 - Update


This report has been prepared to document the efforts and findings of a group of individuals that comprised the “Fleet Management” operational review team. The team performed a cursory study of the Commonwealth’s management/operational practices related to its Fleet assets. Fleet assets were defined as aircraft, watercraft, passenger and non-passenger vehicles.


The review team included individuals from the Executive and Legislative branches of Government with oversight and direction provided by the following members of the General Assembly:
· Delegate Danny Marshall III
· Delegate Steven Landes
· Senator Nick Rerras
The review team included individuals from:
· Department of General Services (team coordinator)
· Governor's Office For Workforce Development
· Department of Transportation
· Department of Forestry
· Senate Clerk’s Office
· Department of Correctional Education
· Virginia Tech University
· Department of Social Services
· Department of Labor and Industry
· Department of Corrections
To kick-off the review, two meetings were held with General Assembly members in February 2007. Legislators were provided a presentation that included information on the acquisition, maintenance and operation, and safety related to the Commonwealth’s Fleet assets. The information provided was a high level overview of previous studies, current operations, and cost data. Guidance from Legislators to review team:
· Determine study areas where greatest opportunity to achieve benefits from re-engineering may exist
· Consider potential for operational and cost efficiencies
· Identify short- and long-term operational recommendations
· Develop approaches to implement identified recommendations

Determine Study Areas with Greatest Opportunity to Achieve Benefits:

On February 26, 2007, the review team began weekly meetings to discuss fleet operations.
- Eliminated aircraft and watercraft from the scope of the study
o only 10% for the $47M in equipment spend
o approximately 600 of the 26,000 motorized vehicles
- Focus on passenger/non-passenger vehicles registered with Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
o Sedans
o Vans
o SUVs
o Pick-ups
o Trailers
o Dump trucks
o Class 8 tractor/trailer configuration
o Busses

Consider Potential for Operational and Cost Efficiencies:
The review team targeted four areas to study for registered vehicles only as they have the highest potential for immediate cost and operational efficiencies to be achieved by making changes in current processes. Longer-term, these areas were determined to be ripe for an “enterprise” study by fleet consultants, a study scope approach not previously conducted by the Commonwealth, with the belief that such a study would produce process re-engineering recommendations resulting in future efficiencies for registered vehicles. The four targeted areas are:

1. Vehicle acquisition policies and procedures
o Commonwealth does a good job procuring vehicles. In most cases the Commonwealth leverages its buying power by consolidating purchase volume into statewide contracts.
§ Ex. 2007 Malibu
· State contract price = $13,075
· MSRP = $20,795
§ Ex. 2007 Dodge 1500 pick-up flex fuel
· State contract price = $16,363
· MSRP = $22,139

2. Fleet and equipment maintenance policies and procedures
o DGS maintains the centralized passenger fleet using an outsourced vehicle maintenance model. DGS has seen its preventive maintenance (PM) costs reduced from $44 per vehicle to approximately $28 per vehicle.
o DGS maintains approximately 4,000 vehicles. DGS vehicles average 3 PMs per year. Transitioning to the outsourced model, DGS estimates an annual savings potential of $192,000 (12,000 * $16).
o The Auditor of Public Accounts reported in 2004 that there were 6,649 agency owned passenger vehicles. Vehicle maintenance for agency owned vehicles is managed by agencies, not DGS. If PM cost experience is similar to that experienced by DGS prior to implementing an outsourced model, total costs for PMs are estimated to have been $877,668 (6,649 *3 *$44). Under the DGS outsourced model, PMs for these vehicles are estimated at $319,152 (6,649*3*$28). A potential cost savings of $219,417 under the DGS model.
o It is expected that the outsourced managed model will achieve savings for vehicle routine and non-routine work.
o Recommendation (short-term): transition agency owned passenger vehicles into the DGS vehicle maintenance model starting with those vehicles currently not being actively managed by an automated vehicle management system.
o Recommendation (long-term): Consultant to conduct a right-sizing study of the Commonwealth’s maintenance operations and resources for all fleets (except aircraft and watercraft). An objective would be to determine the right balance of state owned and commercial shops needed to support the Commonwealth’s maintenance needs. Study to be funded from the Council on Virginia’s Future productivity investment fund.

3. Fueling processes and the Commonwealth’s fueling infrastructure
o Fuel expenditure vs. purchase data:
§ The review team discovered that in FY2006 there was a significant discrepancy in expenditure and purchase data for fuel (gasoline and diesel).
§ CARS expenditure data for FY06 = $47,911,449.59.
§ eVA and fuel card purchase data for FY06 = $32,606,613.77
§ Difference between expenditure and purchase data = $15,304,835.82
§ Team believes that the Commonwealth is buying fuel twice. For example, bulk fuel is purchased by an agency operating a bulk fuel site and reports expenditure to CARS. Then, a state vehicle purchases fuel from the bulk fuel site. The vehicle fuel purchase is reported to the same CARS expenditure codes as the bulk fuel purchase.
§ Recommendation (short-term): that the expenditure and purchase data be investigated further to verify the assertion of the review team. If determined to be a double purchase situation, Commonwealth (DOA) to determine appropriate method to report expenditures.

o Fuel purchasing method:
§ Commonwealth purchases approximately 14,670,000 gallons of fuel annually (8,365,800 diesel; 6,305,200 gasoline).
§ Fuel is purchased in bulk and using commercial fuel cards.
§ VDOT currently manages bulk fuel contracts while DGS manages commercial fuel card contract.
§ Recommendation (short-term): Commonwealth to combine the fuel volume from the bulk fuel contract and the commercial contract into a single procurement to leverage the total volume of fuel purchased. If the Commonwealth were to save as little as a penny per gallon from such a consolidation, the estimated savings is: $146,700 (14,670,000 *.01) annually. Procurement to be managed by DGS the Commonwealth’s centralized procurement authority. DGS currently purchase other energy sources for the Commonwealth (i.e. natural gas, electricity, coal).

o Fuel infrastructure
§ Fuel can be purchased from commercial fuel sites at the same cost for the Commonwealth to by bulk fuel.
§ There 400+ state operated bulk fuel sites.
§ There is a cost for the state to operate bulk fuel sites. Costs in dollars and environmental hazards.
§ Does the Commonwealth need all 400 state operated bulk fuel sites?
§ Cost efficiencies may be gained if the Commonwealth could eliminate/close fuel sites.
§ Recommendation (long-term): Hire a consultant to study the Commonwealth’s owned fuel infrastructure considering the availability of commercial fuel sites. Consultant to give consideration to emergency management requirements and special requirements of individual agencies. Study to be funded from productivity investment fund.

4. Vehicle and equipment driver training and monitoring
o In FY2006, DGS reported 300 accidents in DGS centralized fleet vehicles at a cost to repair of approximately $500,000.
o Currently a driver training program is not in place for state employees that operate a DGS owned vehicle.
o Recommendation (short-term): DGS develop a set of training slides to be posted on the Department of Human Resources, Learning Information System. Slides will include basic safety instruction on the use and operation of vehicles and what to do if involved in an accident.


Target Area
Short-Term Recommendation
Long-Term Recommendation
Maintenance of Passenger and Non-Passenger Vehicles Registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles
Transition agency owned vehicles into the DGS vehicle maintenance model starting with those vehicles that are currently not actively managed by an automated vehicle management system.
Consultant to conduct a right-sizing study of the Commonwealth’s maintenance operations and resources for all fleets (except aircraft and watercraft). An objective would be to determine the right balance of state owned and commercial shops needed to support the Commonwealth’s maintenance needs. Study to be funded from the Council on Virginia’s Future productivity investment fund.
Fuel purchase and infrastructure
1) That the expenditure and purchase data be investigated further to determine cause for discrepancy in data. Make adjustments, as necessary, for reporting fuel purchase and expenditure data at the enterprise level.

2) Commonwealth to combine the fuel volume from the bulk fuel contract and the commercial fuel card contract into a single procurement to leverage the total fuel volume purchased by the Commonwealth. If the Commonwealth were to save as little as a penny per gallon from such a consolidation, the estimated savings is: $146,700 (14,670,000 *.01) annually. Procurement to be managed by DGS the Commonwealth’s centralized procurement authority. DGS currently purchase other energy sources for the Commonwealth (i.e. natural gas, electricity, coal).
Hire a consultant to study the Commonwealth’s owned fuel infrastructure considering the availability of commercial fuel sites. Consultant to give consideration to emergency management requirements and special requirements of individual agencies. Study to be funded from productivity investment fund.

Vehicle Operator Training
DGS develop a set of training slides to be posted on the Department of Human Resources, Learning Information System. Slides will include basic safety instruction on the use and operation of vehicles and what to do if involved in an accident.


The Fleet Operational review team focused its study on the acquisition, maintenance, and operation of passenger and non-passenger vehicles owned by the Commonwealth’s agencies and institutions of higher education.
- The team determined that acquisition practices seem adequate. However, the Commonwealth conducts its vehicle procurements using a procurement methodology that has been in place for years. The model used simply aggregates the needs of agencies and institutions into consolidated procurement actions (based on category and type of vehicle) then negotiates concessions and pricing with manufactures pursuant to the Commonwealth’s procurement policies and procedures. The team would be interested in hearing alternative approaches for the acquisition of vehicles that may result in more favorable pricing?

- The team determined that vehicle maintenance should be actively managed by Commonwealth resources that have maintenance expertise and automated systems to monitor vehicle maintenance activity. In addition, data is available that supports a mix of private sector commercial maintenance shops and state owned shops is likely the most cost efficient manner to maintain vehicles. A short-term recommendation is for Commonwealth vehicles not currently being managed by an agency with maintenance professionals using an automated maintenance management system to track maintenance activity to be transitioned into the Department of General Services Vehicle Management Control Center (DGS, VMCC). Long-term recommendation is to hire a consultant to study, from an enterprise perspective, the private sector commercial maintenance shops and state-owned maintenance shops to determine a proper mix of each to support the Commonwealth’s maintenance needs. What are the benefits/concerns to transition Commonwealth vehicles into the DGS, VMCC? Any thoughts on studying the mix of commercial and state-owned maintenance shops?

- Fuel purchasing approach and infrastructure support. Currently bulk fuel purchases are administered by the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and commercial fuel purchases are administered by DGS. By aggregating these purchases into a single procurement action, cost efficiencies may be achieved as a result of volume economy purchasing. What other benefits or what concerns are there that need to be considered from the aggregation and consolidation of purchasing fuel? On the infrastructure side there are over 400 state-owned, operated and maintained fueling sites. With the thousands of privately owned and operated sites does the Commonwealth need 400+ sites? Is there a mix of commercial sites and state-owned sites that can meet the Commonwealth’s fueling needs (daily operational and emergency) that would allow for some state sites to be closed? Eliminating some sites from the Commonwealth’s inventory should result in a reduction in facility maintenance and operation costs.

- Safety and operation training for operators of Department of General Services (DGS) vehicles (passenger vehicles used by state employees conducting state business) is not currently provided. DGS will be preparing a set of training slides that will provide basic safety and operation information on the use and operation of DGS vehicles. The training will be offered on the DHRM learning information system. Are there other training opportunities that should be considered?

Monday, April 16, 2007

Energy, Fleet and Mail OH MY!

For some of us looking at the horizontal spending of state government operations, it sort of feels, somedays, like a trip to Oz.

The first Operational Review Team reports should be out this week. The first up will be energy, fleet and mail.

Each report will list
1) Purpose
2) Those involved in making the report
3) Areas of discussion
4) Top 3-5 draft recommendations
5) Invitation for you to comment on the report and solicitation of your ideas

Looking forward to your positive and constructive comments!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

What works: Baltimore school performs miracles

Posted on Sun, Apr. 01, 2007

BALTIMORE - Consider the neighborhood.

Words tumble to mind by way of description. Words like desolate. Words like tough. Words like hard and mean and grim and sad.

Now consider the girl who goes to school here. Danielle Branche, 16, is tiny, has a pretty smile, and speaks with self-possession about her dreams. "When I graduate, I want to go to either Antioch College in Ohio or Point Park University in Pittsburgh and I want to get my bachelor's in both dance and business management so I'll be able to open my own dance company."

Consider the neighborhood. Consider the child. If they seem not to fit one another, well, that's the point. Welcome to St. Frances Academy. Welcome to What Works.

The latter is my series of columns highlighting that which is helping to improve the lives of black children. The former is a sterling example thereof.

St. Frances ( was founded in 1828 by Mother Mary Lange, a Haitian-born nun who eventually moved to Baltimore, where she used her own money to educate free children of color, which was then illegal.

Nearly 180 years later, the order (Oblate Sisters of Providence) and school she founded serve more that 300 students. More than 70 percent of them qualify for free or subsidized lunches. More than 90 percent of them go to college.

What makes this miracle? David Owens, a teacher of theology and, like a number of his colleagues, an alumnus, ticks off a few factors: small class sizes, uniforms, discipline, rigorous academics, high expectations. "And then lastly, love. When I scold you - yell at you, they say - it's not because I don't like you. It's because I love you."

In some form or another, every student or teacher says that.

"What makes us different," says Sister John Francis, the school's president, "is we're independent. We can do whatever we want, pretty much."

In public schools, she says, "the principals' hands are tied, the teachers' hands are tied" and no one has the freedom to simply do what works. But at St. Frances, they do. For example, the school provides counseling to mend the emotional wounds of kids who have seen mom on drugs, dad in jail, brother murdered. A third of her students, says Sister John, are in weekly therapy.

"My belief is that you can take the smartest kid in the world, but if they've got all these issues, they're not going to be able to focus on their academics until they at least start dealing with the issues."

Across the street from the school is a prison. High stone walls topped by concertina wire. Squatting there massive, ugly and cold. Squatting there like a warning. Squatting there like a threat.

Deonte Tuggle, 17, goes to school in the literal shadow of that threat. Yet he is a young man of offhand confidence.

"I'm not like most boys my age that live in the neighborhood," he says. "I'm not out there smoking, drinking and getting high and all that kind of stuff. I don't let people dictate my life and tell me who I am as a person. Only I know who I am as a person."

Consider the child. Consider the neighborhood.

Now, consider the possibilities.

Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald, 1 Herald Plaza, Miami, Fla. 33132. Readers may write to him via e-mail at His column publishes most Wednesdays and Sundays.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Show Me the Spending!

Americans for Prosperity, Three Other Citizen Groups Launch Coalition and Website to Mobilize “Google-Government” Movement

WASHINGTON – States should follow the federal lead and make user-friendly online databases of government spending accessible to the public: that’s the word from a diverse coalition of four citizen groups, which have set up an Internet-based clearinghouse on the state-based “Google-government” trend. The coalition consists of Americans for Prosperity (AFP), National Taxpayers Union (NTU), Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW.)

The one-stop website,, will serve as a grassroots resource to persuade state leaders to emulate federal legislation sponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL). Signed by President Bush last year, that law mandates the creation of a searchable online source that citizens can use to track hundreds of billions of dollars in federal grants and contracts.

“Last year, taxpayers finally gained the ability to ‘Google’ their federal tax dollars, and there’s no reason in the world why they shouldn’t have the same ability to ‘Google’ their state tax dollars,” said AFP President Tim Phillips. “The more information taxpayers have about how lawmakers are spending their money, the more likely it is that tax dollars will be spent wisely.”

“No state has fully embraced the technology that could make government spending data accessible to the people who pay the bill for it all,” NTU Senior Government Affairs Manager Kristina Rasmussen noted. “Our goal is to ensure that any taxpayer with a computer can become a watchdog over state funds.”

“The movement to bring transparency to government spending has the potential of bringing immense cost savings for taxpayers simply because lawmakers will think twice about certain expenditures,” said ATR President Grover Norquist. “Taxpayers will be best served when all levels of government are required to disclose their expenditures in a clear, searchable format – and can be held accountable."

“This is the first step in citizens lifting the veil of secrecy of government spending,” CCAGW Vice President David Williams said. “Every state that passes this legislation will show that government is still for the people and by the people.”

Coalition members are confident that will help Americans “better understand the spending that takes place closer to home,” as its online introduction notes. The site features a constantly updated state-by-state legislative status center, model legislation for officials, research on the benefits of state spending disclosure, and a grassroots action center that gives citizens the ability to petition state legislators on the issue.

Koch Classic II

Another GREAT quote, paragraph actually, from Charles G. Koch's book.

"Innovation is facilitated by having the right people in the right roles with the right skills and values. It is enhanced by seeking critical feedback from others who have the diversity of knowledge and perspectives. It also requires a culture in which exploration, experimentation and discovery are not stifled by fear of failure. And the culture must be reinforced by incentives that reward the prudent risk-taking necessary for innovation."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Looming Financial Crisis

The Politico explores the 2008 elections in "Candidates Ignore Looming Financial Crisis."

One of the biggest problems facing the country in the next 50 years is an explosion of government debt.

Experts call it a "tsunami" of red ink that will swamp the country as it borrows more and more to pay for all the obligations it has incurred for health care, retirement and other federal programs. The multibillion dollar cost of the war in Iraq is but a small part of the problem.

This projected debt is calculated in the trillions. Bringing this planned spending into line with forecasted revenues will make for some of the most difficult political choices the country has faced in years.

Read the rest of the article here.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Koch Classic

I have just read a great book "The Science of Success - How Market Based Management Built the World's Largest Private Company" by Charles G. Koch.

How big is the largest private company in the world? $90 billion a year in revenue.

Page 104 hits the nail on the head as far as what the Cost Cutting Caucus is all about. While you could go ahead and order the book at or your local bookstore, I will give you a taste of Koch and CCC strategy.

"It is easy to fall into the trap of a single-minded emphasis on cost reduction. Cost is only one component (although a critically important one) of value creation. If your goal is to lose weight, you could accomplish it by cutting off your leg, but that is hardly beneficial. Cost-cutting for its own sake can be just as shortsighted and can seriously damage future profitability. It is more appropriate to focus on eliminating waste, that is, unprofitable activities in light of opportunity cost."

BINGO! Value creation within state government services!

Friday, April 06, 2007

Government spending: A better way

We at Americans for Prosperity look forward to seeing the outcomes of Delegate Saxman & the Cost Cutting Caucus’s Operational Review Teams and applaud their initiative in taking this closer look at government spending and operations. This is a very important first step in examining and evaluating the spending of taxpayer dollars, and we are hopeful that it will begin to move government in a direction of greater efficiency and more accountability for how it spends our money.

Over the past week, AFP has traveled around the state holding a series of Town Hall meetings with the Attorney General focusing on state spending and needed budgeting reforms. We were pleased to be joined by Cost Cutting Caucus Chairman Delegate Saxman at one of these meetings in Staunton.

At these meetings, we discussed the tremendous growth of Virginia’s budget over the past decade, and the impact on the taxpayers of the Commonwealth. Advocates of bigger government and higher spending try and explain that all this spending is necessary and that without it, government services will suffer.

But, as Jack McHugh, a legislative analyst for the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, explains in his recent article, “The Myth of Big Spending,”

The big spenders hope that taxpayers will temporarily forget tax-funded services like government golf courses, fairs, arts grants, subsidized agribusiness, marketing campaigns and many other reasonable opportunities for belt tightening. Further, the public is expected to assume that it is impossible to operate core government functions any more efficiently or that they can’t be competitively contracted out for less.

McHugh continues:

In other words, the stark "either/or" proposition put forth by defenders of the status quo – either raise taxes or cut services – is a scam. It deliberately ignores a third way, which is to do more with less. In the private sector, this is always the first choice. In government, if considered at all, it is always the last choice.

That “third way,” or the “better way,” as we continue to advocate at AFP, is what we must continue to work for. That is what the Cost Cutting Caucus is working towards with these Operational Review Teams—not making it an either/or scenario, but striving to find better, more efficient ways to deliver state services at a lower cost to taxpayers.

We must continue to move in this direction, otherwise continued government growth will stifle our economy and our individual prosperity.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

ORT Meeting

The Operational Review Teams presented their progress reports on Tuesday.

Clearly the participants are interested in improving the performance of state government while saving current money and avoiding future costs.

Over the next several weeks(months) we will be having posts on this blog so that the public can dialogue with the ORTs. From that we will gain input on what others are seeing and doing in both the private and public sectors so that the best methods, practices, policies and goals are presented.

As always, we look forward to a constructive discussion of this effort.

To remind those of you who have been following this - we are not here to show what is wrong within state government. That is not the goal. We are here to create a more cost effective, in the long term, state government.

We will find (in fact already have) some fantastic opportunities to save the Commonwealth money.

At the meeting on Tuesday, there were some real jaw dropping moments but those were only possible because we presented the ORTs as a way to improve our products and services rather than accuse hard working, well intentioned employees of not "doing it right".

In both the private and public sector, there are functional problems. Departments and employees in the largest companies and small government offices are not perfect. We need to strive for constructive and constant improvement and that cannot occur in any organization without first embracing the power of positive and creative change.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Here we go!

Tomorrow at 4pm in the Speaker's Conference Room the Cost Cutting Caucus will meet with the Operational Review Teams that we assembled working with the Governor's Chief of Staff Bill Leighty.

This is going to a very exciting meeting for those of you who are interested in saving taxpayer money.

The team leaders will be posting on this blog after these reports so PLEASE feel free to offer ANY suggestions that your think will help your government produce better results for you.

As an example, about ten days a go I met with Tim Bass (Senior Adviser to Gov) and June Kimbriel (DOC) and we talked about travel expenses for state government. In FY 2003 the total expenditure for travel was $138,772,138. Okay.

FY2006 it was $184,984,679. Personally, it think an additional $46,212,541 PER YEAR is worth asking some questions. And we have begun that discussion.

Remember, this Operational Review Team structure is looking at the horizontal spending of state government not trying to smash silos of certain departments and agencies.

Horizontal means all the areas of spending that are shared by EVERY department -energy, mail, communications, real estate, water usage, printing etc...

For the last five fiscal (not PHYSICAL) years we are looking at over $11 billion dollars of expenditures.

The goal again is to MANAGE our operations to produce more and hopefully better with less.