Scott’s chief operating officer finds areas to squeeze in state governmentby John Kennedy | June 6th, 2012
A Florida panel reviewing how state government spends taxpayer money heard Wednesday a list of cost-saving recommendations from David Wilkins, who Gov. Rick Scott has named his chief operating officer.
Wilkins, himself, may be an example of the kind of efficiency Scott is seeking to squeeze out of government.
Wilkins doubles as the state’s secretary of the Department of Children & Families. But Wednesday he was focused on urging the state’s 15-member Government Efficiency Task Force to include a number of his ideas in its final package of penny-pinching.
“Any task force that devotes so much time to analyzing problems, you don’t want them to study them and put them on the shelf,” Wilkins said. “That’s certainly not our intent…There’s not a project that we laid out that hasn’t already been done by numerous other organizations and other states.”
The Government Efficiency Task Force is required by the Florida Constitution, which calls for a combination of state elected officials and private-sector experts to examine state government in the opening year of a new or re-elected governor’s term. Work began last summer and the panel is expected to make its recommendations by fall.
Wilkins said the state could save hundreds of millions of dollars in coming years by taking steps similar to those enacted by many businesses.
Human resource offices could be centralized, employee evaluation systems standardized, technology services brought under one agency or possibly outsourced, while state contracting and vehicle-use more closely scrutinized to find savings, he said.
But Wilkins acknowledged that with millions of dollars at stake in state government, there are plenty of lobbyists, vendors, and other special interests that can stand in the way of change. But with Florida weathering its fourth straight year of state budget shortfalls, any spare cash is welcome.
“The simple math is, the more savings we can generate, there’s more money available for education and other priorities of the governor,” Wilkins said.