Albany - The New York State Public Employees Federation (PEF) supports the concept of making government more efficient and identifying cost savings. This is supposed to be the mission of the Spending and Government Efficiency Commission (SAGE).
As a preliminary report, many of the recommendations by the SAGE Commission are lacking details. We remain concerned that without specificity surrounding the recommendations there is the potential that if implemented without safeguards in place they could lead to layoffs, increased reliance on costly contracting out and privatization, and would weaken the civil service merit and fitness system, opening the door to increased patronage and cronyism. These will cost the taxpayers more money.
We understand the need for taxpayers to get the most from their tax dollars. One of the best ways to cut costs is to combine the state’s shadow government of public benefit corporations and state authorities into state agencies; if done properly this will make them more transparent and accountable to taxpayers. So far the SAGE Commission has only scratched the surface of the hundreds of off budget public authorities.
Additionally, we would also ask the commission to examine more closely the state’s use of contractors and costly consultants who perform work state employees could do better and for less. PEF has identified potential savings of more than $300 million annually by reducing the state’s reliance on costly consultants.
There is important work to be done here. To achieve real efficiencies, New York needs to bring in its professional workers and engage them in the process by listening to their ideas.