South Carolina taxpayers, weary of politics, might be relieved to hear what the General Assembly is poised to achieve this year: more efficiency, less duplication and increased accountability in state business.
A Senate bill to establish a Department of Administration under the aegis of the governor would do that and more. And while anything can happen in Columbia, the bill, amended and then approved by the House this week, might actually reach the governor’s desk and become law before the session ends.
In South Carolina state government, some things are done in a certain way because “that’s what we’ve always done.” With respect for tradition, that is rarely a good reason to continue.
Indeed, previous attempts year after year to establish a Department of Administration have failed to pass the Senate. The Legislature would, after all, lose some responsibilities to the governor. And the powerful Budget and Control Board, which now controls human resources, property and fleet management and information technology, would be eliminated, with its responsibilities ceded to the new Cabinet agency.
Governors in almost every other state hold responsibility for those functions, and South Carolina’s should as well. She is the head of the state’s executive branch and these are executive functions. Further, taxpayers won’t have any trouble knowing whom to hold accountable for what happens in such state business: the governor. And the executive functions would be subject to wide legislative oversight — a comforting backstop as long as legislators refrain from using it as a political tool.
Gov. Nikki Haley has pushed for a Department of Administration from the beginning.
She gave credit to Sens. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, and Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, for helping convince the heretofore reluctant Senate of the merits of restructuring.
Legislators should continue their support for a Department of Administration by reaching consensus on a meaningful bill.
South Carolina is ready for cost savings, efficiency and accountability.