Gov. Asa Hutchinson intends to present a transformation plan to the 2019 General Assembly that will reduce by 50 percent the number of cabinet-level agencies in state government, the governor announced today.
Currently, 42 cabinet-level agencies report directly to the governor. The plan is to reduce that number to fewer than 20. Additionally, Hutchinson plans to review the 200-plus boards and commissions as part of his reform effort.
“This will be the first major reform in 47 years,” Hutchinson said. “In 1972, then-Gov. Dale Bumpers led an effort to reduce the number of state agencies from 60 to 13 major departments. In the nearly 50 years since, our state government has reversed course, and now there are more than 40 state agencies that have cabinet-level status. By contrast, the federal government has only 15. To lead responsibly, we must take conservative measures such as this to transform state government.”
This new initiative began with Senate Bill 1202 sponsored in 2015 by former Sen. Eddie Joe Williams. The bill directed the executive branch to consider this type of reform in the organization of state agencies. In addition to the action called for in the bill, the Transformation Advisory Board (TAB), which the governor created in 2017 and is chaired by Michael Carroll, has recommended a restructuring of state government agencies in order to deliver services in a more effective way and to reduce costs. Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin serves as vice chair, and Amy Fecher is the state Chief Transformation Officer.
The next step in this historic transformation project is for the Transformation Advisory Board to solicit ideas from state employees, agency directors, and legislators.