Arkansas Governor Orders Efficiency Review From Policy Foundation

Dec 17, 2015

File photo: Governor Asa Hutchinson in the Governor's Conference Room of the state Capitol.
Credit Jacob Kauffman / KUAR

Governor Asa Hutchinson has issued a memorandum ordering “mandatory compliance” from state agencies in an efficiency review to be conducted by a privately-funded policy foundation. 

Speaking to reporters Thursday before the announcement Hutchinson said the research group approached him about the efficiency review.

“The policy foundation came to me and said they would like to engage in that. Of course, I remember the Murphy Commission that was so helpful a decade or so ago and we’re not finished yet. We need new ideas and we hope a private sector approach taking a look at it can generate those ideas,” said Hutchinson.

The Arkansas Policy Foundation conducted an efficiency review in the mid-1990s that called for performance-based budgeting among other recommendations.

Governor Hutchinson said the lieutenant governor will also be involved in a statewide look at organizational efficiency.

“I’ve specifically asked Lieutenant Governor Tim Griffin to take one aspect of that, not the whole project but the Department of Human Services. To look at the organizational structure of DHS and it’s really a good time when we’re in transition with a new director coming in,” he said.

In a news release the governor’s office said the scope of Griffin’s report, expected March 1 of next year, won’t be all encompassing.

“The project does not include a review of the IT structure or contracts. Those areas will be reviewed separately by the Governor’s Office and the legislature.”

In recent months legislators and the governor have criticized a Medicaid enrollment and eligibility IT contract that more than doubled in cost from $108 million to $220 million.  

Accomplishments the Arkansas Policy Foundation lists on its website include: income and capital gains tax cuts, a private school voucher program and expanding charter schools. The group has also called for Medicaid expansion to be repealed. The governor and a legislative task force this week endorsed continuing the program while seeking waivers and additional savings in traditional Medicaid.

Hutchinson recognized the 20th anniversary of the group at a reception in Little Rock on Thursday. He also held a press conference announcing an organizational review of the Department of Human Services.