Is it a stated goal of Colorado state government to spend your tax money in the most efficient manner possible? Nope. Not by a long shot.
What about spending your money, well, even just kinda, sorta wisely? No, that’s not a stated goal, either.
After looking up the official websites of the state’s 21 offices and departments, I only found one, the Department of Healthcare Policy and Financing, that even mentions fiscal responsibility in their mission:
“Our mission is to improve health care access and outcomes for the people we serve while demonstrating sound stewardship of financial resources. This means that we work to make our members healthier while getting the most for every dollar that is spent.”
Hats off to the ONLY department of our government that at least claims their job is to get the most out of the money they coerce from us. Their glaring exception of making efficiency a goal serves to embarrass every other agency and office.
Most mission statements for state agencies are the usual non-specific, feel good fluff you’d expect: Dept. of Education, “Ensuring equity and opportunity for every student, every step of the way.” Dept. of Human Services, “Together we empower Coloradans to thrive.”
Yep, that really tells us what they’re doing and how to measure their output per dollar.
But, even that gobbledygook is better than the Departments of Regulatory Agencies, and Personnel and Administration, which have no mission, vision or goals at all on their websites. Neither do Jena Griswold’s Secretary of State Office or Dave Young’s Office of the Treasurer. You can never fail if there is no finish line.
But the Department of Personnel and Administration website did proudly declare, “The State of Colorado believes that an equitable, diverse, and inclusive workplace is one where all employees and community partners, whatever their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship status, education, disability, socio-economic status, or any other identity, feel valued and respected.”
So, lesbian, paraplegic, high school dropout, crossdressing, gender-fluid Buddhists illegally here from Botswana will be valued and respected by the state. Yet there is no such expectation for those of us who identify as taxpayers.
Mission and statements are important for any organization because they lead to measurements. Whatever you measure, you improve. This is true in business; it is true in your personal life. Measure what you eat every day, and you’ll lose weight.
And it is true in government, which is why government is reluctant to measure cost per output. Doing so could result in innovation. Innovation disrupts government jobs.
When I was on the RTD board of directors we found that competitively contracting out bus service saved 40%. These were the same buses, riding the same routes on the same schedule, but because the private operators didn’t have the same work rules of the in-house union, they could do it for a lot less. And still RTD wouldn’t contract out more service until the Republican state legislature and then-Gov. Bill Owens forced them to do it.
Imagine if, just if, our elected leaders put taxpayers into their goals. The Colorado Department of Transportation current vision is to “To enhance the quality of life and the environment of the citizens of Colorado by creating an integrated transportation system that focuses on safely moving people and goods by offering convenient linkages among modal choices.”
This belies their social engineering desires to become a statewide transit agency and not really fix our traffic jams.
If taxpayers were part of their consideration, perhaps their vision would “measure our success by using every dollar to best reduce traffic congestion and increase road safety.”
When deciding whether CDOT should buy a new $70 million headquarters building or millions to build their own “Bustang” transit bus service, they might have to explain how that fits into their vision.
I don’t know who all is thinking about running against our current governor, attorney general, secretary of state and treasurer next year. But if they were to lay out the missions of their administrations and exactly how core governmental services would be measured by output, they’d get my vote.
Likewise, any agency looking to raise revenues without demonstrating what the measurement of service per dollar that agency current provides, should be denied.
Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.
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