Spending Money to Save Money

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by CB Forgotston

Is it necessary?
Is it necessary?

An article in today’s Advocate reveals more details about Team Jindal’s award of a $4 Million contract to an out-of-state consulting company to tell state agencies how to save money. ( Story here.)

If the firm can find $500 Million in savings 4 months, it will be money well spent. However, it does raise some questions.

–Why can’t existing state agencies, such as the Lege Auditor, Lege Fiscal Office, Inspector General and Division of Administration Budget Office, each of which is tasked with insuring that the taxpayers get the best bang for our do this job?
— Why not simply issue an Executive Order requiring the head of each Executive Branch Agency to come up with its pro-rata share of $500 Million?
–Was any firm in Louisiana given an opportunity to bid on the contract? If so, which ones?

teamManaging the managers

One thing the Alvarez and Marsal contract calls for is for “the firm to assess the skills, competencies, experience and job functions of existing state workers.” Advocate, January 11, 2014

One of the primary jobs of a manager in the public or private sector should be that function. They supposedly have to do that before a Classified Civil Servant gets a “merit raise.” It makes one wonder what the current managers in state governor are doing.

State Treasurer John Kennedy regularly points out that state government is extremely top-heavy in management. In some cases, we have one person supervising one person.

Money-gift-from-JindalSuggestion

If Alvarez and Marsal find substantial savings in any state agency that do not require a change in the law, it should be grounds for immediate dismissal of the agency head. That would amplify the savings to us taxpayers because managers tend to be the higher paid state employees.

Timing of study

The timing of the study raises more questions.

The lege comes into session on March 10. The last day for introduction of legislation is April 1 (appropriately April Fools’ Day.). However, we are told the study will be completed by the end of April.

Magic...
Magic…

Thus, can we can assume:
1)   None of recommendations will be structural and thus require legislation. Or
2)   The structural recommendations will not be implemented in time to provide savings for the FY15 Budget. Or
3)   The recommendations will be things that competent managers should have already implemented which says something about Team Jindal’s selection of managers. Or
4)   This is merely another dilatory tactic to buy time for the Jindal Administration to avoid making structural changes such as consolidation of the public colleges, passing a guaranteed contribution pension system for all new hires, stop spending state dollars on local and private agencies.

Magic money
Magic money

Cost of study

–What exactly is the source of the $4 Million?

While $4 Million is “chump change” in a $25 Billion budget, we were told that the state was so cash-strapped the leges had to cut Higher Education and Healthcare programs. Four million dollars would match quite a few Federal dollars to reduce the waiting time for programs for our children for which Jindal line-item vetoed from the FY14 budget.

Accountability

Count all Numbers...
Count all Numbers…

–Where is the accountability? Accountability is a concept that seems to be disappearing at the local, state and federal levels of government. What happens if there is no $500 Million savings, but merely $500 Million in recommendations for savings?

–From where will the political courage come to implement $500 Million in savings? Will their be study to find it?

C.B.

“King of Subversive Bloggers” – James Gill

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