Bills aimed at shrinking government

Published 6:58 am Sunday, February 24, 2013

By Cam Ward

Since taking over control of the state senate in 2010, the Republican majority has set its sights on reducing waste and redundancy in government.

While a government of laws will always play a vital role in the lives of citizens, too much government leads to complacency, lack of innovation and shoddy services.

This session has already seen bills to consolidate law enforcement agencies in Alabama and IT services to the various government agencies that use them. Both of these bills are aimed at reducing the size and scope of government while making the services they provide more efficient and the people that provide them more accountable to the taxpayers.

Next week I will be working a bill that consolidates all of the state’s vehicles under an Office of Fleet Management. This is an idea that has been around for some time, and in fact was worked up under Gov. Bob Riley early in his first term. It will put the management of all the vehicles of all state agencies under one roof, and answerable to one person.

Currently, each agency buys its fleet vehicles piecemeal, based on their individual needs. The truth is that most of the cars and trucks we use have the same specs and the same usage requirements. Combining the purchase of all vehicles under one office will allow the state to use buying power as a force multiplier and negotiate for better deals.

We will also use modern statistical analysis and metrics like lifecycle costing and greening to ensure that while we are getting better up front costs, while taking into account the total cost of vehicles like wear and tear and gas mileage to save money over the long-term.

Another issue that will help the state save money under this legislation is energy use reduction. Alabama has pioneered bio-fuel research and usage, and we intend to make use of all types of energy and all types of vehicles in our quest to save the state and our taxpayers money. Whether it is hybrids, cars that run on ethanol, or even electric cars for local usage, we are committed to not only reducing the overall cost of purchasing vehicles, but also the overall cost footprint of vehicle usage.

The themes of our Republican agenda are reducing the size of government and making government more accountable to the people. This plan will accomplish both of those goals by making one person responsible for fleet management, and by reducing the size of the state vehicle fleet while reducing the overall energy costs associated with using and maintaining that fleet.

Cam Ward is the state senator representing Chilton County.