The bill focuses on performance, accountability and effectiveness by making structural changes to 20 boards, commissions and licensing programs.
Over the past year, heads of many of the state’s departments and agencies conducted a top-to-bottom review to thoroughly analyze operational and organizational efficiency. The review was fueled out of concerns that Tennessee must practice greater fiscal constraint due to cuts that will likely come from Washington and the need to downsize state government as state revenues are still below pre-recession levels. Through this comprehensive review, the departments were also asked to establish a culture of customer service, efficiency and effectiveness.
With Tennessee facing significant budget challenges, we must reduce the size of government to make it work more efficiently and effectively. At the same time, we are emphasizing customer service for Tennesseans who must access a wide array of state services, from driver’s licenses to TennCare. Senate Bill 2249 works to accomplish this.
Currently, Tennessee has more than 200 boards and commissions, many of which have independent hiring and spending authority with little oversight. The legislation merges six boards into three for increased efficiency including the Conservation Trust Fund Board which will absorb the Conservation Commission.
The Oil and Gas Board and Water Quality Control Board would be combined to form the Board of Water Quality, Oil and Gas.
The Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Board and the Solid Waste Board would be combined to form the Underground Storage Tank and Solid Waste Disposal Control Board. The proposal would eliminate 138 board positions, a move which will save money and increase effectiveness.
In addition, the legislation gives a Cabinet-level commissioner oversight over five boards for increased accountability. They are the Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, Tennessee Corrections Institute, and Commission on Firefighting Personnel Standards and Training within the Department of Commerce and Insurance; the Council on Career and Technical Education within the Department of Education; and the Conservation Trust Fund Board within the Department of Environment and Conservation.
Finally, the bill gives the governor hiring authority for four commissions’ executive directors including the Commission on Aging and Disability, Commission on Children and Youth, the Arts Commission and the Higher Education Commission.