Schwarzenegger Committee Working On Government Reorganization, Including New Public Health Department
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has appointed a committee to draft a "comprehensive reorganization of state government larger than any attempted in California history," including the creation of a new public health department, the Orange County Register reports. The Register reports that the plan would eliminate entire departments and consolidate others, as well as remove up to 200 state boards and commissions and 1,500 political appointees. According to the Register, the plan would eliminate a statewide health planning department and create a new Department of Public Health, which would coordinate various health advocacy, information and prevention programs. The California Performance Review, which is made up of about 265 state employees from various agencies, expects to complete the reorganization plan by April 30. After completion, the plan must go the 13-member Little Hoover Commission -- a state oversight panel that is legally required to review the reorganization plan -- for one month before it is sent to the Legislature for consideration. According to the Register, the plan would be submitted to the Legislature under a special law allows no amendments and requires lawmakers to approve or reject the plan within 60 days or the plan automatically becomes law.
Jim Mayer, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, said that the plan "will likely be the largest reorganization attempted" since former Gov. Edmund Brown (D) created the reorganization process in the 1960s. According to the Register, leaders of the reorganization team told legislative staffers on April 7 that Schwarzenegger believes that the state government has become "unwieldy, outdated and unable to respond quickly to a changing economy" and that a reorganization plan would "eliminat[e] and streamlin[e] bureaucratic layers." Although people working on the plan did not say if it would result in layoffs, Paul Miner, project coordinator for the reorganization plan, said that many positions left vacant by an "upcoming wave of state employee retirements" might be eliminated. Billy Hamilton, a deputy comptroller from Texas hired to help oversee the review, said that Schwarzenegger's estimate that the reorganization could save $150 million in its first year could be too low. However, Sen. Jackie Speier (D-San Mateo) said Schwarzenegger "is bordering on trampling some fundamental precepts of a democracy," adding, "We have to make sure that public scrutiny happens" (Hinch, Orange County Register, 4/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.