In her State of the State address, Gov. Haley rightly described the legislative creation of the Department of Administration as the most important restructuring advance since the administration of Gov. Carroll Campbell. But despite the plaudits, it's not a perfect piece of work.
The Department of Administration will be a major new Cabinet agency with several major divisions previously under the arcane state Budget and Control Board. Those include General Services, which handles property and fleet management; the Office of Human Resources, which deals with state personnel, and the Division of Information Technology, which provides wide-ranging data-processing and telecommunications services.
The agency also will include a number of offices already under the governor, such as foster care, veterans affairs and economic opportunity.
So far, so good.
But while the legislation eliminated the state Budget and Control Board, comprised of the governor, the treasurer, the comptroller general and two legislative budget committee chairmen, it reconstitutes the board as the Fiscal Accountability Authority.
And that board has important powers over bonding, procurement and rural infrastructure grants.
Consequently, the state's "Big, Green, Ugly Monster," as described by Gov. Haley, will continue to exercise significant power under a different name.
If it were a horror movie, some hapless cast member would look over at the "Big, Green, Ugly Monster," stirring in its new incarnation, and shout, "It's alive! It's alive!"
And so it is, though with diminished powers and scope.
The fiscal board will keep some of the B&C Board's traditional responsibilities and pick up some new duties. It will have oversight of the Naval Base Museum Authority and the Hunley Commission in North Charleston. And it will rule over the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum in Columbia. The law takes effect in July 2015.
"It gets us closer to a separation of powers," said Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, of the reorganization bill. "My concern is that people will look at this bill and think that our work is done."
Sen. Davis, a long-standing advocate for governmental reorganization and reform, voted for the bill, though with misgivings. He particularly objected to having the new fiscal board retain power over procurement, which is viewed as an executive duty in most states.
It took years of debate and delay to pass the Department of Administration bill, demonstrating the Legislature's difficulty in relinquishing its power, even when clearly warranted.
And while the reorganization will substantially strengthen the executive branch, it also provides for expanded legislative authority for oversight and investigations of the executive branch.
The bill will improve accountability and provide expanded possibilities for agency streamlining.
It is no small achievement, but there's still more to be done to give the governor the full executive authority that her counterparts generally enjoy - and which the state's chief executive should have.
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