Baumgartner pleased with results of his 2011 bill to consolidate state agencies; says there is still much work to do

Governor Gregoire giving Sen. Baumgartner the pen she used to sign his 2011 DES bill into law

In June 2011 Gov. Christine Gregoire signed into law a measure introduced by Sen. Michael Baumgartner aimed at improving how state government does business by consolidating several state agencies and putting nonessential services out for bid. Today, Baumgartner announced that he was extremely pleased to see that Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5931, and the Department of Enterprise Services (DES) which it created, are already showing results.

“This reform represents a fundamental shift in the focus of state government toward delivering state services as efficiently as possible and is the biggest restructuring of state government in twenty years,” said Baumgartner, a Republican lawmaker from Spokane. “I am extremely pleased that this measure, which I am proud to have sponsored, is already saving taxpayers money and providing greater value for every dollar spent.

“Hopefully the early success of this restructuring will give my fellow legislators the confidence to address new reforms when the 2013 session begins in January. While creation of the DES was a great first step, there is still much work to be done.”

ESSB 5931 created the DES to handle support services previously provided through the state departments of general administration, personnel and information services. It also took over personal-services contracts and risk-management functions handled by the Office of Financial Management.

Under the law, up to six activities performed by the department must be bid competitively each biennium to determine if savings can be achieved.

Joyce Turner, DES director, reported last week that the new agency had already made a number of cost-saving reforms expected to save nearly $37 million in the next two-year budget cycle.
Efficiency measures include consolidating vehicle fleets, combining agency accounting and payroll departments, and the overall consolidation of five state agencies into three. The agency also negotiated a new office-supplies contract that resulted in approximately $6 million in savings per biennium.

“By some estimates, the state spends nearly 1.9 billion dollars a biennium on information technology,” said Baumgartner, who will serve as vice chair of the budget-writing Senate Ways and Means Committee when the legislative session begins Jan. 14. “This and other future reforms have the potential of saving the state several hundred million dollars over the long-term, which can instead go to essential state services like education, helping the state’s truly most-needy, and increasing access to higher education.

“It’s about smarter government; we can always do better and we shouldn’t stop looking for areas to reform until we can guarantee every taxpayer that each dollar they send to Olympia is being spent in the most efficient, effective and beneficial way possible.”

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