Former Oklahoma Gov. George Nigh had a way with one-liners. He presided over the state during some roller-coaster revenue times. Once, a frustrated reporter asked him why state government couldn't be run like more like a private business.

"If we ran state government like a business, we'd all go to prison," he joked.

Mr. Nigh went on to talk about government services and the costs that don't always bring returns on the dollar. Critics say that's just an old-fashioned way of defending the status quo of state agencies.

Those agencies will have to begin defending their existence and bureaucratic ways in BRAC style hearings set up by House Speaker Lance Cargill. They began last week and will continue until legislative recommendations are made next year.

Mr. Cargill tapped Norman Rep. Scott Martin to be part of the government modernization efforts. He wants to find opportunities for consolidation of agencies, boards and commissions as well as find cost savings through purchasing economies and technology upgrades. Mr. Martin has some experience with municipal governments and should be able to contribute to this dialogue.

In 2006, Oklahoma ranked first among six comparable states in the number of government entities, according to Mr. Cargill. The closest any state came to Oklahoma's 515 ABCs was Kentucky, with 397. The remaining four comparable states -- Arkansas, Iowa, Oregon and Kansas -- each have less than 200 ABCs.

Mr. Cargill plans to reintroduce legislation in the upcoming session next year to establish CARSA ? the Commission on the Accountability and Review of State Agencies.

"This independent commission will conduct a BRAC-style review of state government to decide if there are areas that can be combined, streamlined or left as they are," said Cargill. Lawmakers would have to vote yes or no on the recommendations.

Just to stay at 515, the commission will have to eliminate one agency with the new formation of CARSA.

Trending Video