Purchasing Reforms Save State Big

Purchasing Reforms Save State Big

By State Rep. Mike Sanders

As committees continue to send legislation to the House floor, I thought I would give you a bit of good news regarding the success of past government modernization reforms. I was informed this week that state agencies are looking at the possibility of saving as much as $12 million from recently completed and ongoing contract negotiations made possible by purchasing reforms.

Oklahoma’s state purchasing agency is the Department of Central Services. Deputy Director Randy Ross has informed the House Government Modernization Committee that the expected savings to the state from new contract negotiations is set to be as much as $12 million. Municipal and county governments might save as much as an additional $7 million by taking advantage of these contracts.

The purchasing reforms were enacted by legislation that gave Central Services additional tools to negotiate the best products at the lowest price for the state. The department has also been able to streamline purchasing orders and the receiving of bids with the use of modern technology. This in turn gives Central Services more time to negotiate contracts.

Ross projects that the state will save at least $10 million in the short term and increasing amounts as more contracts are renegotiated. Many of the reforms were first suggested during a 2007 government modernization interim study, which suggested that if the state utilized technology and purchasing best practices, the state could save as much as $75 million annually. Government modernization remains a top priority for House Republicans this year.

The House Government Modernization Committee has also been busy moving legislation. One bill that passed will ban the use of kids in advertisements for the state lottery. Basically, I would compare the use of children in these ads to the use of cartoon characters such as Joe Camel and candy-flavored cigarettes in tobacco advertising. There’s just no reason that children should be associated with something that they are prohibited from taking part in. Gambling, like alcohol and tobacco, can lead to a serious addiction. As the bill’s author says, “it makes no more sense to use them as pitchmen for gambling than to us them to sell tobacco and alcohol.”

I want to thank the following FFA chapters for their visit during FFA week – Kingfisher, Okeene, Dover, Lomega and Woodward. I’d also like to congratulate all FFA national winners. This organization does so much to give our youth opportunities to develop leadership, an appreciation for hard work, and agriculture. I’m very pleased to see their great work.

I visited the state medical examiner’s office today with Appropriations and Budget Committee Chairman Ken Miller, Public Safety Committee Chairman Randy Terrill and other House members. We wanted to see firsthand what a mess the office was in. It’s had staffing problems, building problems, and a long backlog of paperwork. I believe it is critical that we address these problems. Oklahoma families depend on it.

I visited the Panhandle Nutrition Center in Vici this past Friday to discuss the cuts to the senior nutrition programs. I enjoyed visiting with the nearly 40 seniors who attended the lunch, and I would like to extend a special thank you to Panhandle Nutrition Center Director Sara Herring for allowing me to join them.

Most of my legislation is scheduled to be heard next week in committee and I’m looking forward to talking to my fellow lawmakers about the importance of each measure.

I will keep you regularly updated on the activities of the Legislature through this column. As always, I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at the Capitol at (405) 557-7407.

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