Posted: February 23, 2011
Contact: Sharon Kelly, 465-6619, Legislative Aide - Budget
(Juneau) - House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, today introduced House Bill 166, legislation re-instituting performance reviews for state departments and agencies. Similar reviews for state boards and commissions are instituted through statute, AS 44.66, and HB 166 returns that duty to departments and agencies, a practice ceased in 1983.
The information provided by these reviews will include authority, accountability, effectiveness, efficiency and necessity of departments and their programs.
~ Rep. Mike Chenault
"Our Caucus's top guiding principle is fiscal responsibility, and one of the main themes we've recognized as key is restraining and re-examining state spending and budget growth to determine if programs and directives we fund are still necessary and essential state services," Speaker Chenault said. "We've been looking at what other states do over the past couple of years and this is something we've gone back to, and similar to what Texas does today."
Speaker Chenault says that with shortened 90-day sessions the finance committees have less time to thoroughly review the governor's proposed annual budgets, leading to justifications of spending and inflationary increases instead of the typical analysis of finding efficiencies. "Our Co-Chairs do the best they job they can to restrain growth, but the fact of the matter is throughput in the oil pipeline is decreasing but state spending at a departmental level isn't following suit. We need to start re-evaluating state entities now, while we can afford it thanks to the high price of oil, before the spigot closes and we're left scrambling to fill gaps and re-start these discussions."
The bill captures information including authority, mission and measures, audits, contractual audits, Leg. Finance, other studies, ten-year plan, and fiscal policy recommendations. HB166 also allows reviews of other state's best practices, participation by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL,) and the Texas Sunset guidelines, of which the bill is modeled on, without the increase in staffing or bureaucracy in the legislative audit division.
The legislature found a need for an effective and regular system of scrutinizing the programs and activities of all State agencies, boards and commissions in 1977, The legislature further found that the establishment of a system for periodic review by the public, the executive and legislative branches of certain state agencies, boards and commissions would help the governor and the legislature determine the need for the continued existence of each.
"The information provided by these reviews will include authority, accountability, effectiveness, efficiency and necessity of departments and their programs," Speaker Chenault said. "The report, along with draft legislation to fix issues, will provide the House and Senate finance committees with in-depth information needed to fund state budgets appropriately.
"The ultimate benefit of these reviews will be for Alaskans. It will ensure Alaska government is working for Alaskans in an effective and efficient manner."