Blowing Up Boxes in Sacramento

The season of high theater is underway in the state capital and Reason Foundation is knee-deep in the fun! Next week, the Governor will unveil his revised annual budget for state government. Will unexpected revenue gains from an undeniably successful tax amnesty program mean a short, quick budget fight? Or will recent calls for a “line in the sand” approach to budget reductions by some members of the legislature foreshadow a long, drawn-out fight? If that isn’t enough, the Governor’s “California Performance Review,” which I have been honored to serve as a Director of for the past three months, is lurking in the background, quietly evaluating state government. Our goal is simple. Create a government that is transparent, accountable, and competitive. I have attached a couple recent articles below related to CPR and our historic attempt to “blow up the boxes” of the state organization chart. I also have to tell you about one person in particular that I have met here. He is a mild-mannered guy named Denzil Verardo from the Department of Parks and Recreation. He epitomizes CPR and is leading the effort here to shift California to performance-based budgeting. Few people are passionate about budgeting but Denzil certainly is. In March, Denzil presented his view of performance based budgeting to a room full of CPR members, as well as Department Directors and Agency Secretaries. He was almost glowing with passion for the idea. In fact, one Agency Secretary that shall remain nameless stood up and was so impressed with his presentation that she declared “you are the second person named ‘Denzel’ that I have fallen in love with! Just two weeks ago, Denzil even found a way to work performance-based budgeting into his family vacation. While most people go to Disneyworld while in Florida, Denzil visited the Florida Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability-the center of their performance-based budgeting efforts. He even went on his own dime! With the passage of the 1994 Government Performance and Accountability Act, the Sunshine state began the process of budgeting based on performance. Denzil went there to learn from their experience and bring it back to California. While Denzil’s passion for performance-based budgeting is unique, his passion for reform is not. I cannot tell you how many folks I have encountered at CPR with the same passion for a leaner government. When I first started my “tour” with CPR, I worried about the extent to which these public employees could challenge the culture of government that they have been subject too for, in some cases, the past several decades. While I still believe changing that culture to one responsive, accountable, and results-based will be a major, long-term effort, my experience thus far with the California Performance Review, and the folks like Denzil making it happen, give me confidence that we will achieve our goals of a leaner, more efficient government. There will always be folks that resist change. That is, of course, human nature. And you are no doubt going to see some sparks and smell some smoke over the coming weeks. Thank you for you ongoing support of Reason Foundation and our work to expand liberty. Warm Regards, George Passantino, Director of Government Affairs, Reason Foundation Director, California Performance Review PS Send CPR your suggestions on fundamental reform. You can either send them to me directly or via CPR’s online suggestion box, located at Second, we need to make it loud and clear that California needs reform now, that we cannot wait until the fiscal storm clears. You can email the governor at RECENT CPR ARTICLES Blowing Up Government: Inside Gov. Arnold’s plan to restructure Sacramento by Bill Bradley, LA Weekly EDITORIAL: We should blow up bureaucratic boxes – but do it the right way By Dan Walters, Sacramento Bee