A powerful new tool for holding government accountable
A few weeks ago, in her State of the State speech, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin spent a considerable amount of time describing what I believe to be one of the most, if not the most, important ongoing government modernization initiatives.
Fallin described the performance.ok.gov website and the newly-created performance expectations for state government agencies.
You might recall my article of last week in which I described Oklahoma state government as the perfect multi-tentacled, big-government monster. You can only imagine the challenge facing an Oklahoma Governor who is charged by the people of Oklahoma with the mission of containing this monster and holding government accountable but who in all reality simply does not have the tools or authority to do so. State government is too big and unnecessarily siloed within far too many different agencies which are controlled by boards of unelected bureaucrats who have no natural incentive to be responsive to the people of Oklahoma.
The people can elect their Governor of choice but that person does not have the power to see that the peoples’ desire for efficient government is substantially reflected in any immediate way.
Performance.ok.gov provides the Governor of Oklahoma with a new and powerful tool. Using the system, the Governor and the Governor’s cabinet officers may set performance expectations for state agencies, publish those expectations for all to see, and chart the ongoing progress of state agencies in meeting or not meeting the expectations.
Additionally, the new modernization laws enable the Governor to measure the efficiency or inefficiency of very specific processes which are commonly shared amongst state agencies. Based on this measurement, the Governor has the authority to mitigate those processes which are inefficient and costly to the taxpayer. This puts real teeth into the Governor’s ability to make government more efficient.
Not only does this new system allow the Governor and the public to hold the agencies accountable, but it lets the taxpayers hold the Governor to account as well. For example, if you will navigate to performance.ok.gov you can see the expectations which the Governor has established and see whether those are expectations with which you agree.
The system is still in it’s infancy. It must become much more robust.
For example, visitors to the site should be allowed to download the raw data sets which back up the metrics. This will provide credibility to the system and allow the media, policy organizations and the taxpayers to analyze government performance. The findings of these groups will provide policy makers with insights into government performance which were never before possible.
The number of metrics must also continue to grow and at some point in the not-too-distant future should include direct feedback from the taxpayers. After all, the taxpayers are the consumers of the government service and their voice should be heard in measuring the quality of service provided.
I would suggest that if this reform is completely implemented, in connection with the ongoing agency and process consolidations, the vote of the people of Oklahoma will become much more meaningful. When Oklahomans elect the governors of the future, they will do so with the knowledge that they are electing someone who will be able to truly carry out the voters’ mandate for accountability and efficiency.
Thank you for reading this article. Your interest and input are much appreciated. Please do not hesitate to email Jason.Murphey@hd31.org with your thoughts and suggestions.