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WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 2, 2005
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EDITORIAL

Progress cited in dismal state management ranking

With the interest on California's state debt higher than Alabama's annual operating budget, linking the two to last place in management styles seems like a gross mismatch.

The University of Richmond's Government Performance Project makes that leap, however, in measuring the performance of the 50 states.

We scored C's in managing money, people and information and a D in managing infrastructure such as highways and bridges.

Alabama, though, has something started that California needs desperately if that state is to overcome its $26 billion debt. Alabama has SMART budgeting, which began last year.

"The hidden story is that Alabama in a number of areas has really been improving, focusing on doing the right thing," said project editor Richard Greene.

Some agency heads resist this new accountability because it requires budgeting that establishes goals and performance objectives for efficiency and quality.

Some managers say SMART budgeting won't work because they don't control all factors, or critical issues, necessary to ensure high performance.

To counter these claims, the Riley administration worked with the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama to analyze objections. The administration is ready for the second year of SMART budgeting and plans to require even greater accountability for agencies and the executive branch.

Gov. Riley went into office preaching accountability in government. SMART budgeting can be a gimmick or a vital tool in planning and raising performance levels. For SMART to succeed, the governor's office and the Legislature must work together for a change, which also would be smart.

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