Proposed Legislation Could Streamline Local Governments, Save Taxpayer Dollars
2/13/2015
By Rep. Seth Grove (R-York)

On March 22, 2012, former Gov. Tom Corbett issued an executive order to create the Governor’s Office of Innovation, which was tasked with using lean management practices to reduce waste and improve state government services. The results have been incredible. Since its inception a few years ago, the Office of Innovation has saved taxpayers more than $690 million by reducing waste and providing services more efficiently. This includes more than $100 million at the Liquor Control Board and $47 million in the Department of General Services. In more than 300 projects the Office of Innovation has saved taxpayers $169 million just through increasing productivity and efficiency by which government services are now being provided. Recognizing the success of this effort, Gov. Tom Wolf issued an executive order this month to expand the office. The new Office of Transformation, Innovation, Management and Efficiency will be tasked with finding ways to modernize government and more ways to save taxpayer dollars.

Pennsylvania is not alone in this effort. Government entities across the country have been adopting lean management practices. These practices are used in the private sector to reduce waste and improve services for customers. As government entities have adopted these practices, they have been able to reduce government waste and improve delivery of services to taxpayers. These entities include the United States Department of Defense and Environmental Protection Agency, along with the states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Minnesota and Ohio. In Ohio, lean management practices have led to savings of over $116 million in Medicaid alone. These practices are also used to great effect across the nation at the local level, including the City of Cincinnati and the County of Denver, Colorado.

Similar to the problem facing the commonwealth today, many local governments and school districts continue to struggle with growing costs. This problem is compounded by declining local economies throughout the Commonwealth, which has placed some local governments and school districts in financial distress. In the past, the Commonwealth worked to address financial distress by passing Act 47 (for financially distressed municipalities) and Act 141 (for financially distressed school districts). However, since enactment of these laws, no local government or school district which has entered financial distressed has improved its situation enough to leave financial distress. Often these municipalities and school districts are forced to choose between raising taxes and reducing services to taxpayers. One reason for this is a lack of tools available for financially distressed local governments and school districts to reduce their costs.

In order to assist these financially distressed local governments and school boards, I introduced House Bill 11. This legislation would direct the Office of Innovation to provide training to distressed local governments in lean management practices. By working with these local governments, we would assist in reducing its costs and help to prevent the reduction of services to taxpayers. Additionally, House Bill 11 directs the Office of Innovation to continue their work in training state agencies in lean management practices. This ensures new state employees are trained to look at their position and think of innovative ways to increase efficiency and improve delivery of services to taxpayers. By cultivating efficiency this legislation changes the culture of government to focus on improving delivering services to taxpayers. This means for the first time in our history, government is providing services through mindset of the consumer (taxpayer) and responding to better serve their needs. The impact of this culture change is a reduced cost of state and local government for taxpayers. I look forward with working with my colleagues on passing this legislation to reform state and local government to efficiently provide services at a lower cost to taxpayers.
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