The Commission on Government Reform, Efficiency and Performance

On November 3, Governor Walker signed Executive Order #179 to create the Governor’s Commission on Government Reform, Efficiency and Performance. The goal of the commission is to explore ways to increase efficiency and look for better ways to operate state government.

While I don’t expect the commission to make earth shattering changes, there are certainly places where state government can be more efficient. Three places that have already been identified as in critical need of reform are the state’s computer and accounting systems, the Transportation Fund and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

The State Transforming Agency Resources (STAR) Project will consolidate the accounting systems to improve efficiency and modernize the technical infrastructure at all state agencies.

This comprehensive accounting system will be more cost-effective than having each agency use a separate computer system. The STAR system will make it easier to identify duplicative services and administration. Where there are duplicative services, we need to make sure we are getting the best bang for our buck and that people are not falling through the cracks.

Wisconsin needs a long term funding solution for our transportation and infrastructure needs. Funding the transportation budget on credit is one of the “false choices” that the Governor and majority Republicans have made. We need to stop kicking the can down road and implement a long-term funding solution to meet our transportation needs and repair our crumbling roads, bridges and rail lines. We cannot borrow our way out of this crisis. The debt service on the borrowing alone puts us further behind each year.

There have been over 300 crashes on I-39/90 in Rock County this year alone. Over eighty people were injured and three were killed during this period. Our highway infrastructure is rated as the 3rd worst in the nation with 71% of our roads and bridges in poor or mediocre condition and our rail lines are literally falling apart. Clearly, we are doing something wrong.

Perhaps the most obvious place for government reform right now is at WEDC. The ongoing problems at WEDC are a clear example of waste, fraud and abuse. WEDC has been responsible for handing out hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate welfare with little or no accountability. Taxpayer subsidized grants and loans have been lost at WEDC. Campaign contributors and unscrupulous businesses have often been the beneficiaries of WEDC awards.

I support a complete overhaul at WEDC and am happy to see that legislative leaders have finally come around to accepting the need for change at the organization.

Wisconsin citizens are also able to submit suggestions for the commission to consider. If you can think of ways to make state government more efficient you can submit your suggestions by using the online form at

As the only Democrat to serve on the commission, I may not agree with all of the recommendations that come forth. But I feel it is important to participate in this commission because my input might have a positive impact. People expect me to work with my Republican’s colleagues and I won’t walk away from this responsibility simply because I am in the minority.