News Releases
Office of Governor Gary Locke
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 9, 1997
Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

State Makes Progress in Cutting Regulations, Saving Dollars and Improving Service

OLYMPIA - Governor Gary Locke's two major efforts to improve the quality and efficiency of state government are producing early positive results, including cutting 591 pages of regulations, improving customer service and saving money.

"We cut 1,935 sections of regulations since January and re-wrote another 489 sections so that they are in plain language and easy to understand," Locke said. "This means people who deal with state government can more easily understand what's required of them, and our statute books won't be cluttered with a lot of things that no longer are necessary.

"State agencies also have reported 192 quality improvements this year. This means citizens are obtaining some permits faster, state workers are doing their jobs more efficiently and millions in taxpayer dollars are being saved," Locke said.

The quality improvements will save $4,058,261 immediately and will have a projected saving of $7,824,869 per year. About 27 state employees were re-directed to other work as a result of efficiencies. The quality efforts also produced $958,000 in additional revenues, with another $200,000 more generated by the end of 1997.

Earlier this year, Locke issued two executive orders to state agencies. The regulatory improvement executive order (Executive Order 97-02) requires state agencies over the next four years to review all regulations for need, reasonableness, effectiveness, clarity, fairness, public involvement, coordination among regulatory agencies and consistency with legislative intent and statutory authority. The review began last summer, and agencies made their first yearly progress report in October.

The quality improvement executive order (Executive Order 97-03) directs each agency to develop and implement a program to improve the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of public service. Both initiatives are coordinated by Locke's Deputy Chief of Staff Fred Stephens.

"These two initiatives have very strong connections," the governor said. "Both are aimed at making state government work better. We must restore the public's trust and respect for public service. The only way to do that is to improve the quality, efficiency and friendliness of the services we provide to citizens and make sure every tax dollar is spent wisely."

The governor cited several examples of what he called "small steps adding up to a lot of savings and good news for the citizens of the State of Washington."

In November, the Department of Revenue, in partnership with the Department of Information Services, tested a system that allowed 10 businesses to file and pay their taxes over the Internet. When put into production, this system is expected to save time and money and reduce tax-filing errors.

Washington and Oregon state governments combined their purchasing program for certain goods and services. For instance, the two governments were able to buy fluorescent lights for 20 percent less. This Department of General Administration initiative will save our state $800,000 during the next two years.

Labor and Industries analyzed the large amount of newsletters and other information being sent out. Some information not used was eliminated and other publications were made available for citizens to order. The result was avoiding printing and mailing costs of $201,601.

Teachers retiring at the end of the school year often had to wait until September or October to receive their first retirement check. The Department of Retirement Systems was able to get those first checks out in July.

The Liquor Control Board worked with the State Department of Health, local and state law enforcement authorities and tobacco retailers to reduce access of youth to tobacco products. The number of businesses selling tobacco products to minors was reduced to 5.5 percent, making Washington the most difficult state for persons under 18 to purchase tobacco products from licensed retailers.

Social and Health Services Aging and Adult Services Administration cut the time clients seeking long-term care service had to wait for initial contact from 90 days to less than five days.

Department of Ecology staff helped Washington's largest electroplater to reduce production of hazardous wastes from 50,000 pounds to 7,000 pounds a day. The company saves $247,000 a year after investing about $40,000.

More than 77,000 retired state employees received remittance advice statements each month. The Department of Retirement Systems surveyed the retirees and now only sends the statements to those who request them. More than $14,700 is saved each month in printing and postage.
The Department of Health developed a state-of-the-art communications network connecting state and local health offices. Birth certificates now are issued in some jurisdictions in as little as 15 minutes from the time a customer requests one. This compares with a turnaround time of several days in the past.

Labor and Industries revised its construction contractor registration system. Instead of up to eight weeks, contractors now can have their registration renewed in five days or less.

The Department of Licensing cut the time 50,000 people a year must wait for a replacement driver license from 52 days to 14 days.

"There are still many possibilities for improving service, but I want to thank the state workers who have made these improvements possible," Gov. Locke said. "They are showing the talent and creativity to transform state government and make government work better for all Washingtonians."

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