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GOC

Those of you who did legislative interviews will recall a question on the report of the Government Organization Commission (GOC). Since the report had just been published at that time, not all legislators had had the opportunity to study the recommendations made by the Commission. But those recommendations are now subject to close scrutiny and may result in action to change the structure of our state and local governments during this legislative session.

Alice Scott, a GOC Commissioner and a member of the League, has provided us with a summary of the major recommendations:

Background

The Government Organization Commission was established by Act 148 of the Eighth State Legislature in 1975. Twelve Commissioners were appointed representing a knowledgeable cross-section of the community. The role of the Commission was not technical review and evaluation of existing departments of government, but rather analysis of the needs for government services and proposal of structure and arrangement of governmental bodies to best perform those services -- nothing less than a monumental task.

At the outset the Commission established the following objectives:

  1. Define and limit administrative responsibilities between State and local agencies.

  2. Evaluate and shape recommendations for the State Executive Branch such as organizational structure, financial powers and responsibilities.

  3. Examine the idea of a limitation on expenditures to an amount appropriate for effective performance of essential services, activities and functions.

The emphasis was on government responsiveness to the public's needs, accountability of officials for their performance, and cost control of revenue expenditures for government programs.

State-County

Basically the many specific recommendations are based on guidelines which would (a) eliminate duplication of services on the two levels, (b) assign responsibilities to the level best able to handle them in terms of responsiveness and uniformity of service, (c) consider that some functions require joint participation by state and county, and (d) consider that some functions may be best performed by private or quasi-private institutions.

Executive

The Commission recommends a large scale reorganization of the Executive departments in order to consolidate fragmented programs and improve accountability. Program consolidation was considered necessary to ensure immediate delivery of services. The public should have to go only one place for particular categories of services. For example, an integrated Department of Human Services (social, health, welfare, etc.) would handle the many aspects of the needs of a person in distress without having to shuffle him/her around from department to department.

The GOC recommends reducing the number of departments from 17 to 12. Five existing departments would be retained: Attorney General, Defense, Hawaiian Homes Lands, Education and the University of Hawaii. New departments would he: Planning, Budget & Management, Finance & Revenue, Human Resources, Community & Economic Development, Environmental & Natural Resources, Business Regulation & Consumer Protection, and Life Long Learning.

Accountability could be enhanced through decentralization of certain administrative controls to Cabinet officers and program managers who would be paid on the basis of performance. This would require establishment of a management-by-objectives system to evaluate performance, and a management compensation plan which would gear pay to job performance, eliminating the current practice of management salary piggybacking on collective bargaining contracts.

Cost Control

A twelve-member Council on Revenues is proposed to formulate binding revenue estimates for both the Executive and the Legislature. That means that the Council would not only evaluate revenue estimates, but also set expenditure ceilings. The Council would also be advisory on State-County fiscal relationships and on future financial implication of current and proposed programs.

The Commission felt a strong need for cost control. In a briefing outline for public hearings, December 9, 1976 the following figures are reported by the Commission: "In Hawaii this spending [government) increased nearly 470 percent between 1960 and 1975, as compared with 340 percent for the nation as a whole. Our figure is well ahead of such states as California and Washington and even ahead of Florida, whose economic development paralleled our own during this period. In the past 5 years the aggregate expenditures of the State and four counties has almost doubled."

Commissioners have attended hearings in both the House and Senate this legislative session to explain and promote the recommendations in their report. A copy of the report is in the League office for your reference.

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