Reduce the Number of State Agencies by 10%


September 6, 2014 12:07 PM



There are good reasons to reform the structure of the state agencies focused on preserving and promoting our heritage and culture, but let’s not stop there.  Structural reform across all levels of government will lead to better use of tax dollars.

Many bemoan the bloated federal government, but that is outside of our direct control. Many want to reform Indiana’s local government, but few have demonstrated the courage and persistence necessary to press for change.

State government is, by contrast, in great shape and only getting better. Due to prudent leadership, state employee numbers are at their lowest levels in decades, state debt continues to be reduced, state surpluses are bulging, and taxes are being reduced.

Do we stop there? No! We take the next bold step in proving that the Hoosier way of governing means we constantly strive for better outcomes while living within our means.

Consolidation of government’s executive functions often makes sense for any number of reasons, including:

  • Taxpayers can more easily understand and navigate a simplified government structure;
  • Middle management ranks can be reduced, with savings returned to taxpayers or reinvested in ways more directly beneficial to taxpayers; and,
  • Resources can be more easily dedicated where they are needed with funding combined and approval processes streamlined.

So, here are more reforms to consider:

  • Consolidate the Department of Labor and Worker’s Compensation Board into Department of Workforce Development.
  • Consolidate the Board of Animal Health and the Coroner’s Training Board into the State Department of Health.
  • Consolidate administration of the retirement medical benefits in the Budget Agency and the Hoosier Start retirement benefits in the Auditor’s Office into Indiana Public Retirement System.
  • Consolidate the Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities and Indiana Protection & Advocacy Services into the Family and Social Services Administration (FSSA).
  • Consolidate the minority, women, and veteran and executive branch lobbying registration functions in the Department of Administration and the Department of Transportation’s disadvantaged business certification to the Professional Licensing Agency.
  • Consolidate the Hoosier Lottery and Horse Racing Commission into the Gaming Commission.
  • Consolidate 911 from the Treasurer, the Integrated Public Safety Commission, and Indiana Data & Communication System into the Indiana State Police.
  • Combine the Indiana Education Employment Relations Board, Center for Education & Career Innovation, and Indiana Charter School Board into the Department of Education with its leader appointed by the Governor.

Consolidation doesn’t always make sense, of course. The separation of the Department of Child Services from FSSA is probably one of the best examples where services improved when related functions were separated.  So, any consolidation idea deserves careful consideration.

Still, when we have consolidated, outcomes have improved. Over the past decade, we’ve merged four different “centralized” IT agencies into one; two retirement-related agencies into one; three higher ed-related agencies into one; and six debt issuing agencies into one. The results have been extremely positive, and we need to do more.

Let’s show Washington that Hoosiers know how to make government work even better. With bold leadership and smart planning, I think we could reduce the number of state agencies by about 10%. And, I am sure there will be millions that can then be put to better use.

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  • deanadams

    We could start by getting rid of the shadow Dept of Education that Pence established.

  • Wheelhelmina

    Chris, ordinarily I am in favor of the recommendations that you share on the blog. Today we disagree, at least in part. Merging the GCPD and IPAS into FSSA would be a bad move for people with disabilities.

    First, their constituencies are different. GCPD and IPAS are tasked (federally) with serving people with disabilities (and, arguably, their families). In contrast, FSSA serves a broader service group, and must carefully contend with taxpayers at large and provider agencies. These latter two groups have interests that may directly conflict with those of the disability community.

    This creates logistical issues. IPAS has the power to sue FSSA, but a agencies don’t sue themselves. Is everyone subservient to the FSSA Secretary? Do GCPD Members still have authority to appoint staff?

    Finally, who is left to be the watchdog?

    • Chris W. Cotterill

      I do wonder if three seperate state agencies focused on serving people with disabilities and their families are going to be as effective as one consolidated entity could be. IPAS dates back to 1977; FSSA back to 1991; and, GPCD back to 2004. Maybe these three different disability-service focused entities deserve a look after all this time?

      I also wonder if the governance of GCPD members appointing staff is the best model, as I think appointed staff accountable to an elected official who can be informed by public advisory boards is usually the better model. And, state agencies suing one another sounds like a poor conflict resolution model to me, but I don’t have any direct experience on IPAS-FSSA issues. But, my comments are conceptual, and not meant to disagree with your conclusion.

      You raise good points–the type of points that should arise when considering such proposals. At the end of the day, it’s all about getting better outcomes for the people served.

  • John Sorg

    This is great stuff. Count me in!!

  • Jim Williams

    Iam in also…Great stuff…Dont stop with state but local, county and city consolidations are also needed..Recall the complete Kernan Sheperd Report ? Makes lots of sense…