About a Streamlining Commission

Yesterday, CF released its new publication, Streamlining State Government, bringing attention to the more than 340 state regulatory and advisory agencies, demonstrating the need to trim the size of government and reduce the bureaucracy that inhibits economic growth.

Over at the capitol, the Senate Inter-Governmental Operations Committee held a hearing on the same topic, with Nate Benefield among the testifiers. Dan Rothschild of the Mercatus Center explained how Pennsylvania can ensure the creation of an effective streamlining panel, based on the experiences of Virginia and Louisiana. His recommendations included:

  • Identify a focus and provide clear goals. Commissions can either focus on specific, discrete issues or cover a wide range of government services. This should be clearly and specifically articulated in the commission’s charter.
  • Keep the timeline commensurate with the scope. Commissions with a very narrow scope may be able to complete their work in a matter of months, but those with broader missions may need a year or more to complete their work. As one staff member from Louisiana’s Commission on Streamlining Government said, “The deal with true reform is you sit back and look at it a while.” Taking the time for deep study, debate, and reflection will yield a better final product.
  • Structure committees in a way that comports with staff expertise. Both Louisiana’s and Virginia’s commissions created committees within the commission to study particular issues in depth and report back to the commission.
  • Properly resource the commission with the funds necessary to start quickly, investigate thoroughly, and report effectively. Providing a budget to a commission tasked with reducing spending may sound oxymoronic. But virtually all of the members of the Louisiana Commission on Streamlining Government who we interviewed told us that they would have been more effective with an independent investigative and analytic staff.
  • Select commission members who are largely outsiders. Streamlining commissions are most effective when a majority of their members do not make government their full-time occupation.

You can find the rest of Rothschild’s recommendations here.