Monday, November 29, 2010

Efficiency Group and the Deck Chairs

Gov.-Elect Susana Martinez has put the Garrey Carruthers efficiency group back in business. Excellent.
In its previous life as the Committee on Government Efficiency, starting in December 2009 and ending with a report dated January 14, 2010, the group surveyed the low hanging fruit and found savings to recommend of $129 million.
The biggest item was $35 million from increasing state coverage insurance premiums. The group also tended to little stuff, finding about $700,000 in savings from eliminating and/or consolidating more than 35 boards, commissions and task forces.
Another ten items were recommended for further analysis including reducing the number of school districts and the number of institutions of higher education.
However, the group didn’t really look at eliminating activities of state government, except outdated boards and commissions.
Efficiency has to go beyond rearranging the deck chairs.
Here are a few thoughts:
First, recommend some actions that might be considered outlandish. How about eliminating Harding County? The latest housing estimates show the county with more housing units than people, clearly a statistical quirk of some sort but yet another indication that paying special attention to Harding County as a county is a waste.
Or eliminate the local government division of the Department of Finance and Administration. Any functions thought useful such as the capital budgeting advisory work can be parked elsewhere.
Opportunities exist in higher education.
Just looking at degree titles, I find New Mexico State University offers two doctoral degrees in educational administration. One is a doctor of education. One is a doctor of philosophy. The college of education at the University of New Mexico offers 11 (wow!) doctoral degrees in education. There is one in just “education” and with one each covering educational leadership, linguistics and psychology.
Consolidation and program reduction opportunities await.
Western New Mexico University offers ten graduate degrees. The listing for education masters degrees is confusing, but there appear to be 11. There are two ways to get a masters degree in social work, two MBA options and three ways to get a masters in “interdisciplinary studies,” whatever that is.
Highlands University has masters degrees in 16 fields including computing, business, human performance and sport, public affairs (absurdly promising “a comprehensive understanding of the social and cultural environment in the public and private sphere”) and social work. The latter, by the way, is well regarded. By contrast, I simply don’t understand how, with five campuses outside its Las Vegas home, Highlands can offer computing and business graduate degrees that are other than a complete waste. And of course, those five non-Vegas campuses should be eliminated.

No comments: