By Ramsey Scott
Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Via Wyoming News Exchange
CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Government Efficiency Commission on Monday approved recommending a group of about 18 cost-saving measures to Gov. Mark Gordon and the state Legislature.
The list could potentially save the state more than $60 million over the 2021-22 biennium.
The recommendations come from the national consulting firm Alvarez & Marsal, which was hired by the state in 2018 on a one-year, $1.8 million contract for the efficiency study. According to the report, which was voted on by the efficiency commission during a Monday meeting, its preliminary recommendations could net the state savings of about $170 million over a five-year period starting in 2020.
It would cost the state $11 million to implement the recommendations over that same five-year span, according to the report.
Recommendations from Alvarez & Marsal that were approved by the efficiency commission that had the highest return on investment, as well as relatively low risk, included identifying and selling surplus government assets, ensuring reimbursements from the Wyoming Department of Health to medical providers were accurate and hiring more state auditors.
Those three ideas could potentially net the state about $30 million in savings over a five-year period for an investment of about $1.6 million.
Gail Symons, a member of the commission, said Alvarez & Marsal qualified risk based on several factors, including the political risk and potential pushback from a recommendation.
“(The risk included) the likelihood that the Legislature will hold their nose on it and do a thumbs up or thumbs down,” Symons said.
Another recommendation approved by the commission was the creation of a new Project Management Office to coordinate multiple agencies’ efficiency efforts. Alvarez & Marsal estimated it would take a $777,000 investment over five years from Wyoming to create the office, but identified it in its reports as a vital component of any statewide effort.
Commission co-chairman and Senate President Drew Perkins, R-Casper, said the new office should be run out of Gov. Mark Gordon’s office and act as the leader for this effort.
“We thought that if this is going to go forward and we’re going to have a culture change, we wanted to round to the governor that the (office) should be established and operated within state government,” Perkins said. “(Without this office) we could just be overtaken by all the stuff that has to be done.”
The consulting firm estimated that Wyoming has already saved $6.2 million to date in general fund dollars from the 10 efficiency projects the state is currently implementing and two in the planning stages.
Those savings were realized, according to Alvarez & Marsal, two different ways – $1.5 million in actual budgetary savings and $4.7 million in efficiencies that allowed state dollars to be stretched further.
The new series of about 18 recommendations represent less than half of those identified by Alvarez & Marsal for Wyoming in its study. The first group that has been approved by the commission now goes to Gordon to potentially be included in the upcoming biennium budget recommendations, and then to be considered by the Legislature in 2020