At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled his plan to cut the number of cabinet-level agencies from 42 to 15. This is first comprehensive effort to trim state government since 1972.
“This long-overdue and comprehensive reorganization effort will realign agencies to reflect a more modern and efficient way to operate state government without cutting any services,” Hutchinson said during his presentation at the Arkansas State Capitol. “This will result in improved delivery of services and will ultimately save the state money and the taxpayer time.”
“Additionally, as was the case in the creation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security during my time as Undersecretary, all reorganization efforts will be implemented using existing resources and without adding any additional staff,” Hutchinson said.
Hutchinson’s says his proposal accomplishes six key objectives to improve state government:
• The proposal will reduce the number of cabinet-level agencies by nearly 65 percent, from 42 to 15 without sacrificing any services. This move will increase an agency head’s flexibility to make quicker decisions that will improve the quality and delivery of services.The proposed mergers will strengthen the affected agencies by providing more resources while at the same time eliminating duplicative processes. Ex. Both the Arkansas Agriculture Department (AAD) and the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission (ANRC) will be strengthened by bringing ANRC under AAD. Ex. Both the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE) and the Arkansas Department of Higher Education (ADHE) will be strengthened by bringing the two departments into one larger cabinet group. Higher Education Institutions will remain independent.
• The proposal will assign more than 200 boards and commissions to a larger umbrella department. Regulatory and Licensing Boards will retain their authority and revenue sources.
• The proposal will improve the delivery of services to Arkansas taxpayers by breaking down silos within state government. Ex: The Department of Health and 15 health-related boards and commissions will be brought together under one umbrella department. Ex: The new Department of Public Safety will bring all law enforcement and protection agencies together for the first time.
• The proposal will improve management control throughout state government through the creation of the Department of Transformation and Shared Services:
Office of Personnel Management
Division of Procurement
Employee Benefits Division
Division of Building Authority
Department of Information Systems
Geographic Information Systems
• The proposal will allow agencies to maintain their independent services, where appropriate. Any agency/board/commission will retain their special revenue streams required by law. Some agencies will remain independent for constitutional reasons or because of their specific function.
• The proposal will create savings for the state and taxpayers beginning in the FY 2021 budget through lease and rent savings, shared services, and a more responsive management approach, to name a few.
Finally, as noted above, in the same way the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was created during Hutchinson’s time as Undersecretary of Homeland Security, all reorganization efforts will be implemented using existing resources and without adding any additional staff.
You can find a substantive list of “key points” on the proposal HERE.