Governmental Operations

The number of employees in state and local governments has been declining since 2008 and represents the largest contraction of public employment in more than 30 years. The loss of jobs in the public sector would have been much more accelerated had it not been for a marked increase in federal aid—primarily the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which helped preserve a significant number of state and local jobs for several years. Those funds are now gone and, while private sector employment has been recovering slowly, many state and local governments continue to cut the number of people they employ.

Stateline Midwest ~ December 2012

Five of the nation’s 10 best-run states are in the Midwest, a study by the financial news service 24/7 Wall St. concludes, led by North Dakota and its oil-fueled economic boom.

Stateline Midwest ~ November 2012

Indiana lottery officials announced in October that they were handing over day-to-day operations of sales and marketing to a private contractor.

When Gary D. Alexander took over as secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare in January 2011, he inherited a department with a $27 billion budget and more than 16,000 employees. Alexander discovered the department was fraught with waste, fraud and abuse, and regularly requested supplemental budget appropriations, Eisenhower said. To address these issues, Pennsylvania tried an enterprise-wide solution never done before in the health and human services arena. Thus began the Enterprise Program Integrity initiative, an East regional winner of The Council of State Governments’ 2012 Innovations Awards.

Stateline Midwest ~ February 2012

Question: What are Midwestern states’ rules regarding protests and demonstrations in capitol buildings?

Stateline Midwest ~ April 2012

Question: Which states in the Midwest post the salaries of employees on their websites?

It could be argued that government is more transparent today than at any point in our country’s history. From the example set by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, state financial managers have worked to implement legislation envisioning ever greater access by citizens to government spending data. Transparency websites were first a trend for just a few states; they are now the norm. With each passing legislative session, the federal government hones its focus—and its mandates—on the concept of transparency. But how much is too much? At what point on the spectrum does the risk inherent in sharing so much financial data outweigh the potential benefits? These are not easy questions to answer. Regardless, it looks like transparency is here to stay.

Chapter 8 of the 2012 Book of the States contains the following articles and tables:

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that The Council of State Governments encourages states to partner with the National Association of Public Affairs Networks about the formation and expansion of a state public affairs network in each of the 50 states in the manner most appropriate for each individual state. 

The Florida Senate recently approved HB 1205, which would allow state agency heads to randomly drug test state employees. The bill is the nation’s first and only law that allows random drug testing of state employees without a specific suspicion in individual cases or when an employee’s position is “safety sensitive” – like someone who handles heavy machinery.