Nevada Governor Planning Anti-Waste Panel

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (AP) - Gov. Jim Gibbons is gathering names of
Nevadans interested in serving on a panel modeled after former
President Reagan's Grace Commission that in 1984 produced nearly
2,500 ideas for cutting government waste - but saw disappointing

The Reagan-era panel was criticized because it was a private
commission, but Gibbons press secretary Ben Kieckhefer said Friday
that the governor would try to avoid that by involving people from
inside and outside government.

"The one thing we don't want to have happen is to spend a lot of time, resources, energy and political will to put out a 900-page that lands with a thud," Kieckhefer said, adding, "We want to really drive some change instead of putting out a big stack of paper."

Gibbon's plan is to include "people who understand how government currently works, as well as people who have some outside perspective on how to create new efficiencies and who may be able to cast a new eye on some of these operational systems," he said.

The idea would be to start small, within one or two government
departments, identify and implement changes and then "translate
successes to other departments," Kieckhefer said. A timetable for
the panel hasn't been established yet.

Kieckhefer said the review by Gibbons, who opposes new or higher
taxes, won't duplicate one started by Gibbons' predecessor, fellow
Republican Kenny Guinn, soon after he was elected.

While Guinn's broad assessment of state government operations
resulted in job cuts, a hold on new programs and other controls, it also was a prelude to a new look at Nevada's tax structure that resulted in nearly $1 billion in new taxes in 2003.

The $900 million revenue shortfall the state now faces already has resulted in 4.5 percent budget cuts for many state agencies and may lead to additional cuts. But Kieckhefer said the study commission would go beyond cuts in times of crisis.

"What we're looking at is a long-term revision of how government operates. That could result in changes that could assist the state in avoiding such shortfalls in the future," he said.

Reagan's commission, headed by prominent businessman J. Peter
Grace Jr., spent two years on producing its 2,478 recommendations
in its "war on waste." But a Congressional Research Service study
described the report as "disappointing to its promoters."

The General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, warned that some of the commission's proposals could be challenged in the courts if implemented in the private sector. The GAO also said the commission overstated savings in some cases.

The commission's goal was $1.9 trillion in savings by 2000. That never occurred, although supporters of the effort have said it helped save taxpayers $687 billion over the years.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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