Exponent view -- Thursday, Feb. 4, 1999
The state lottery has an obligation to help gambling addicts
Todays editorial reflects the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which includes William J. Sedivy, John G. Miller, Julie R. Cryser, James Logue, Kevin Courtney and Cecil Jarvis.
Telegram view -- Thursday, Feb 4, 1999
Studys ranking of state shows improvement, but there are miles to go
For a long time the State of West Virginia has stood to improve on how it manages its money, so it was with a touch of gratitude that a study by a group at Syracuse University gave the state an overall grade of C-plus in five categories. But before any state officials start taking bows, they should also recognize that the study showed the Mountain States C-plus grade was better than only 14 other states.
Perhaps it is just one study, but we in West Virginia can ill-afford to rest on these newest lukewarm laurels. We must do everything in our power the energetic kind, not the political to improve where improvement is needed.
Neighboring Virginia, Washington and Utah fared best in the study by the Maxwell School of Citizenship & Public Affairs of SU and also Governing magazine, each with an A-minus. Alabama received the worst overall grade, a D.
Financial management was the category in which West Virginia received a B. But the state received a less glowing report on: human resources (people), a C-plus; information technology, C; capital management, C-plus, and managing for results (planning), C.
The report said of the states financial management: Long saddled with a reputation for financial management that ranged from the inept to the corrupt, West Virginia is making a commendable effort to get its house in order. The states books are now in solid structural balance, and revenue and expenditure estimates have been reasonably accurate although Medicaid remains a problem, running more than 8 percent over budget in the most recent fiscal year.
The study revealed that on capital management, the state has a backlog of renovation needs, adding that there is no unified capital improvement plan, although agencies do create prioritized capital requests for a five-year period and update them annually.
Pertaining to human resources, the report said the state has reduced the number of classification titles to 750 from 1,800 and a number of agencies have increased hirings through streamlining an approval process that often required numerous signatures to hire just one worker. While the state was recognized for a reasonably high priority having been placed on its training, the study indicated that work force planning is minimal and agency salaries are still a problem.
As we stated, West Virginia received Cs in managing for results and information technology. The report said all departments, agencies and programs in the state have goals and plans for accomplishing those goals. The state doesnt have a formal strategic plan, reviewers wrote, but the governor develops his own, consisting of goals and objectives he personally wishes to accomplish.
And what about information technology? The state has reasonable management of its information technology, with a chief technology officer reporting directly to the governor, as well as centralized efforts to set policies and standards.
We feel the report may have hit the nail squarely on the head in saying, Still, too many sensible plans wind up buried in a pile of dead dreams. ... Meanwhile, procurement policies designed to avoid corruption also can make any sizable purchase into a nightmare of red tape.
Dan Page, a spokesman for Governor Underwood, pointed out upon release of the report that the findings on information technology do not reflect the governors initiatives that have been implemented since he took office, adding that nobody can expect such drastic changes overnight.
We applaud the timeliness of the Syracuse University/Governing report. And we hope our state legislators and financial planners each receive a copy.
Robert F. Stealey
Telegram Editorial Board chairman
Clarksburg Publishing Company, P.O. Box 2000, Clarksburg, WV 26302