SACRAMENTO (CBS/AP) — Gov. Jerry Brown is taking a page from David Letterman’s playbook and asking California’s top watchdog agencies to create “Top 10” lists for cutting waste and improving efficiency.
Brown sent letters to the state auditor and the Little Hoover Commission, a state oversight agency, asking for their help tackling the state’s nearly $27 billion budget gap.
It’s a move that could appease Republican lawmakers who say state government is bloated. “We must examine and re-examine every possible way to save taxpayer dollars,” Brown said in a statement.
Brown himself has been the model of thriftiness. On a recent trip to Southern California, he traveled on no-frills Southwest Airlines, forgoing paying an extra $16 to sit in business class. An entourage was nowhere to be found and instead of staying at a hotel, Brown said he stayed at a friend’s home for free.
The auditor’s office should be able to meet the governor’s March 4 deadline, said spokeswoman Margarita Fernandez. Brown asked each watchdog agency to produce a list and include five recommendations that he can implement by executive order.
“We received the request, and we’ll move to develop the list,” Fernandez said. “We think the audit work we’ve conducted as independent state auditor will be ready to provide the list in the time he wants.”
The state auditor is charged with examining agencies to identify potential waste, fraud and mismanagement in state government. The office also is responsible for investigating whistleblower complaints.
The Little Hoover Commission is charged with investigating state government operations. It is led by a bipartisan board composed of five citizen members appointed by the governor and four citizen members appointed by the Legislature, two senators and two Assembly members.
“Although your proposals often are not heeded, I want to hear and listen to your ideas and act on those that will enable government to effectively reduce costs and increase efficiencies,” Brown wrote in his letter to the watchdog agencies.
Brown is trying to save $363 million in operational costs next fiscal year. He imposed a hiring freeze on a state government work force of 234,000, halted new vehicle purchases by the state and ordered half the 96,000 cell phones issued to state bureaucrats to be turned in.
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