Governmental Operations

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.

Many state governments have wanted to participate in social media, but the Terms of Service agreements for these websites prevented them from joining the conversation.  The National Association of State Chief Information Officers has worked to negotiate modified agreements with Facebook and YouTube that address key legal concerns. 

Executive Director David Adkins notes in his message to state officials on the CSG website, “Challenging times present many opportunities for innovation. The current economic crisis is no exception. The Council of State Governments was founded during the Great Depression and for more than 75 years, CSG has worked hard to provide state leaders with what they need to succeed in difficult times.” 

“Information, Insight, Innovation” is the theme of the upcoming CSG National Leadership Conference in May, 2012.

The Council of State Governments presents Innovation Awards to highlight creative and effective programs which improve state government operations. Today, many other organizations recognize innovative federal, state, and local programs, and the Internet makes it easy to share that information. Here are four examples.

Federal -, U.S. Department of Education, Office of Innovation and Improvement

State - Pure Michigan - Entrepreneurs and Innovators

Local -  National League of Cities

Academic/Other - Brookings-Rockefeller Project on State and Metropolitan Innovation

Government officials and the public can access similar efforts through this CSG Capitol Ideas / Innovation / Best Practices – Portal.        

Advancing Government Accountability (AGA) is pleased to announce its latest new audio conference on improving government performance and processes.

"The house of government is broken, and it needs a serious makeover from top to bottom. The presenter, who recently wrote, Extreme Government Makeover, discusses how the processes of government became so complicated and inefficient and how to start cleaning up the mess. Ken Miller, founder of the Change and Innovation Agency, suggests simple ways that public-sector leaders can tear down all the twisted, broken parts of government and rebuild it stronger, leaner and better equipped to help citizens. Miller will share clear and concise tips on increasing government’s capacity. If you need some new ideas to jumpstart your agency or government to think differently, don’t miss this audio conference.