TMCNet:  EDITORIAL: Letters to the editor [The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson]

[September 24, 2010]

EDITORIAL: Letters to the editor [The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson]

(Arizona Daily Star (Tucson) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Sept. 24--Shutting down your computer at night or putting it to sleep when you're away during the day can save money on your electric bill.

You can cut cell-phone costs by signing a contract that lets you share a pool of minutes with family members.

Stop us now if this isn't exactly news. You knew this five years ago, 10 years ago? We thought so.

But apparently these cost-saving ideas are a revelation to Arizona state government. A report this week by Gov. Jan Brewer's Commission on Privatization and Efficiency includes 11 recommendations it says the state can work toward immediately. "Sleep mode" and "pooled minutes" are among them.


Based on a test the state conducted on 75 personal computers in May and June, the commission says the state could save as much as $484,600 a year by installing software that would shut down or temporarily "put to sleep" its 25,000 PCs.

As for the state's 12,000 cell phones, the commission report says, Arizona was "presented with an opportunity from Verizon, the state's largest wireless carrier, to pool the minutes used on its billings to provide immediate cost savings." Agencies now monitor their own cell plans and the state uses multiple vendors and contracts, the report says. The Verizon pooling alone could save $600,000, the state estimates.

A third head-shaker in the report is the recommendation that the state use one e-mail system. Right now, each agency manages its own. This creates duplication in software licenses and hardware, requires redundant maintenance and support staff, and raises security concerns, the report says.

Six agencies are in a pilot program until November to evaluate the best options. The report pegs the possible savings for the 25,000 users and 37,475 licenses in the millions of dollars. There would also be personnel savings in eliminating redundant IT jobs, it suggests.

For private businesses, families who share a cell-phone plan and individuals who own computers, these ideas are hardly novel.

It's dismaying, to put it mildly, that the well-paid heads of state agencies didn't get together long ago to implement basic efficiencies in energy, telephone, software and IT costs.

Those savings should have happened long before Arizona shut down highway rest stops and reduced health care for the mentally ill.

The "privatization" part of the governor's commission is controversial, but the "efficiency" piece is just plain common sense.

When the commission issues its final report at the end of the year, it should include an update for taxpayers on exactly what has been done to implement the suggested efficiencies.

Top bureaucrats missed easy cuts worth millions Arizona Daily Star See the report Read the commission's report at www.azcope.gov/COPE Initial Report.pdf To see more of The Arizona Daily Star, or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.azstarnet.com.

Copyright (c) 2010, The Arizona Daily Star, Tucson Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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