Continuing Butta's Work

January 06, 1993

As J. Henry Butta prepares to present his commission's fina report on efficiency in state government, one thing is already clear: the project is far from finished. The job of streamlining and improving the delivery of government services in Annapolis has just begun. That's why it is important for Gov. William Donald Schaefer to prolong the life of this commission, or create an equally prestigious group to carry out this important task.

The governor chose wisely when he selected Mr. Butta, retired CEO of C&P Telephone Co., to run this blue-ribbon panel on efficiency and economy in government. Its two interim reports suggested moves that would save $120 million a year. While some of these recommendations have been implemented, such as passage of a motorcycle helmet law to reduce Medevac and Shock Trauma expenses and having the state police buy mid-sized cars rather than gas-guzzlers, the bulk of the Butta proposals haven't been addressed.

More controversial suggestions are contained in the final report, much of it dealing with an overhaul of the Medicaid health-care delivery system. If these ideas are to become reality, it will take the firm hand of an oversight committee and a commitment from the governor and legislature.

Governor Schaefer cannot afford to let the Butta recommendations gather dust. The very nature of a bureaucracy makes it resistant to change. If he wants to see his panel's suggestions adopted, he should name a successor group and give it a strong mandate to see to it that bureaucrats adopt the Butta commission ideas.

We've heard so much talk in Annapolis about "downsizing government" but little concrete action. The Butta panel, though, found ways to cut costs and to make state government better. It is up to Governor Schaefer to ensure that these efficiencies aren't ignored. That could prove a tough assignment, but one well worth undertaking.

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