We Can Shrink Government

Analysis:  The City of Tulsa is ahead of America in bloated government, but on a smaller scale.  Developed by local Leftists above criticism for decades, now Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett has proven what many have long suspected:  1.) Over 60 percent of services provided by the city are not mandated, 2.) Nearly 70 percent of city services that should be benchmarked from a cost perspective are not and, 3.) 94 percent of services provided by the City of Tulsa do not measure performance.

These are the highlights of a report titled “Managing Change, Opportunities for Municipal Efficiency and Effectiveness” dated July 1, but released to the public yesterday.  Produced by KPMG LLP the report suggests 1,100 reforms that could save taxpayers hundreds of millions of local dollars each year.

At the report’s public premier Mayor Bartlett said, "With an estimated $18.2 million shortfall in next fiscal year’s budget on top of the $11.6 million shortfall in the FY2010-11 budget, we must find ways to reduce costs while continuing to provide basic, high quality services to our residents.  We have outstanding employees, but some inefficient, outdated processes and programs. This report provides recommendations on how to remove those inefficiencies and better utilize taxpayer money."

"Managing Change: Opportunities for Municipal Efficiency and Effectiveness" was developed by KPMG, an independent, third-party firm of efficiency experts, and was funded by Tulsa Community Foundation at no cost to the city or taxpayers. In addition to gathering input from 457 employees, KPMG used a systematic approach based on leading practices in government and commercial sectors to review 1,512 city services provided by 20 city departments.

"To lead the implementation process, I am establishing the Management Review Office, and I have asked our City Auditor, Preston Doerflinger, to lead it," Bartlett said. "Preston’s business background, analytical skills and familiarity with the city and its services make him uniquely qualified to lead this effort. This office will work with employees to determine the best recommendations, establish timelines and oversee implementation of the strategic initiatives that make the most sense for our community."

"Cities and companies across the nation are implementing improvements to become more effective and competitive," Doerflinger said. "I am excited by the opportunities presented in this study and honored to be leading this effort. I look forward to working with our employees and city leaders to evaluate the opportunities and implement those that will help us improve our services and more efficiently use taxpayer dollars."

Tulsa Today reporters will dig through the report for future news stories, but we have been writing about this issue on this site since 1996.  Most recently, Aaron Sheppard reviewed the City of Tulsa Human Rights Department.  (Read that story by clicking here.)

It is important to remember the basics when considering the organization of government.  There are three different groups with agendas; elected officials, the bureaucracy, and public worker unions.  The old saying “politicians come and go, but bureaucrats run the show” has been more true than not in Tulsa, but Mayor Bartlett has proven, by this effort, to be the conservative mayor many hoped he would be in office.  Yes we can reduce the size and costs of government in Tulsa.

Expect local Democrats, Leftists, Unions and some corrupt City Councilors to oppose each and every reform.  Expect them to use the media to whore for attention and many observers would not be surprised to see organized protests which may be met with counter demonstrations.

However, the Tulsa World’s headline and coverage should set a national example as it proclaimed, “Room for shrinkage.”  Yes, hundreds of millions of our local dollars can be saved and/or redirected to more valuable purpose.  Real journalists populating many different newsrooms in Tulsa could compile months of compelling stories from the KPMG report.  On the national level, the guide from history for future Pulitzers can be found in the book, “New Deal or Raw Deal, How FDR’s Economic Legacy Has Damaged America” by Burton Folsom, Jr. which includes details that could make headlines today.

It is important to note that the KPMG report was funded by Tulsa Community Foundation which is usually considered Liberal.  Thus rational Liberals prove themselves assets in Tulsa.  If only we could free such honest advocates from their leadership at the national level, we could return America to prosperity.  National leadership from the left which grows government and spending and debt beyond sanity is threatening the base value of the currency and scares capital which hires people into hiding.

Or as the American Spectator essay from professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, Angelo M. Cordevilla titled America’s Ruling Class – And the Peril’s of Revolution wrote:

“…When this majority discovered that virtually no one in a position of power in either party or with a national voice would take their objections seriously, that decisions about their money were being made in bipartisan backroom deals with interested parties, and that the laws on these matters were being voted by people who had not read them, the term "political class" came into use.

“Then, after those in power changed their plans from buying toxic assets to buying up equity in banks and major industries but refused to explain why, when they reasserted their right to decide ad hoc on these and so many other matters, supposing them to be beyond the general public’s understanding, the American people started referring to those in and around government as the "ruling class." And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class…”

That was also true in Tulsa, but Mayor Dewey Bartlett’s push to engage KPMG and their carefully documented methodology is what must be done at the local, state and national level by conservatives.  This type of effort provides the foundation of fact from which we can build government the people can afford and end the arrogance of the ruling class – local, state and national.

To reach the full report from the City of Tulsa’s web site, click here.


About the author:

An individualist, David Arnett began a traditional journalism career untraditionally in an Aha Moment you can review  thirty years ago. Arnett has long argued that government is incompetent if not corrupt at the Federal level, put his life on the line to fight corruption on the state level and questioned almost every “authority” in Tulsa at some point.  Passionately belligerent in the demand for equal treatment under the law, Arnett fought for racial integration of Tulsa Public Schools and equal rights as youth liaison to the Community Relations Commission before he graduated from high school.  Arnett is an equal opportunity aggravator.

You are encouraged listen and welcome to call-in between 4 and 6 pm each Saturday on The David Arnett Show on AM 740 and FM 102.3 news talk KRMG to discuss this story.  You may also register free and comment below.  E-mail of news tips are welcome to editor@tulsatoday.com or use our contact form at the top of the page.  Arnett writes here as often as opportunity allows, Another recent editorial you may enjoy is “Top Down or Free Up?” and his warning, published October 2008, “Obama’s Most Significant Statement” is also linked for your consideration.