In 2017 when Connecticut sought a new class of state troopers, over 3,000 applications filled dozens of boxes at the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.

Job screeners then went through each one by hand to find qualified applicants.

Commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and COO of the Office of the Governor Josh Geballe
Opportunity: DAS Commissioner Josh Geballe speaks at Connecticut Business Day.

Two years later, when Connecticut was seeking another class of troopers, an online application saved over $69,000 in staff-related costs and eliminated 23,000 sheets of paper.

The online system also resulted in more applications from qualified people, including women, minorities, and veterans.

It's just one of many steps the Lamont administration is taking to cut red tape and streamline state government.

Priority

Josh Geballe, commissioner of the Department of Administrative Services and Gov. Lamont's chief operating officer, has made streamlining government his top priority.

At Connecticut Business Day March 4, the former IBM executive and entrepreneur told employers the state is centralizing human resource functions into a single department.

"Up until this point, every state agency had their own HR department," he said.

"We can leverage best practices and technologies that have been battle-tested in the private sector and yield benefits."

DAS Commissioner Josh Geballe

"That lead to the predictable duplication of effort in many areas: Different agencies writing their own policies for fundamentally the same things, trying to figure out how to run recruiting processes, et cetera."

The state centralized its HR efforts, organizing workers by function so they can specialize, pool their efforts, and balance their workload across agencies, he said.

Best Practices

Geballe, one of many private sector hires working in Lamont's administration, said he recognizes state government is fundamentally different than business in terms of mission and services.

"But when you get down to the processes of how we run the state and the things we do, they're very similar to business," he said.

"It means we can leverage best practices and technologies that have been battle-tested in the private sector and yield benefits."

That means more online processes that reduce paperwork and trips to Hartford.

"There's no reason why you can't run a state agency using many of the best practices the business community has used to improve efficiency."

CBIA's Joe Brennan

In his 30-plus years at the state Capitol, CBIA president and CEO Joe Brennan has heard time and again that state government cannot be run like a business.

"But there's no reason why you can't run a state agency using many of the best practices that the business community has used to improve efficiency and be more cost effective," Brennan said.

He noted that a lot of companies could not exist in high-cost Connecticut if they operate that way, continually evolving to meet market needs.

"We're glad to hear that many of the commissioners in Gov. Lamont's administration are implementing a lot of these cost-effective measures that still keep the environment clean, still allow us to collect the tax revenues we need, and still perform other functions of government, but do it all cheaper," Brennan said.

'Antiquated Interactions'

Geballe said there are "dozens of areas in our laws that specify very antiquated interactions with the state."

Connecticut small businesses must print out and mail 90,000 documents annually, with state workers having to review and file each of these documents.

By law, Connecticut state agencies must purchase 25% of goods and services from small businesses, defined as those with less than $20 million in annual sales.

But a small business owner who wants to sell to the state may have to complete up to six forms—and get most of them notarized.

And state statute still requires some processes to be paid by check—not credit card or electronic funds transfer—and that communication be done by fax or certified mail, not email.

"Citizens expect state government services to be as easy to access and as convenient as online shopping," Lamont said.

"But, unfortunately, there are laws on our books that include certain requirements blocking the adoption of moving these services online.

"It's time we revise those laws and bring them into the 21st century."

Reforms

The Lamont administration is pushing a series of reforms, outlined in HB 5012, that are designed to make government more efficient.

One of the biggest steps the state has taken so far is the cloud-based Business One Stop, a platform for business filings currently being constructed through a DAS contract worth up to $18 million.

The new online system will ask a user a series of questions, then, depending on the answers, provide specific steps the applicant can take to complete regulatory requirements.

The move to streamline government forms is being driven, in part, by the expected retirements of thousands of state workers in the next few years.

"We're taking actions many of you have taken in your businesses a long time ago."

Geballe

Increasing online transactions can cut expenditures by reducing the need to replace many of those retiring workers.

"We are estimating that of the roughly third of that population that's likely to retire in the next couple of years, we'll only need to refill about half of those roles, and the net of those two, with a little bit of additional investment in technology, is going to result in us reducing the cost of the HR function in the executive branch by about 20%," Geballe said.

"That's one example of something we can that helps drive savings.

"We're taking actions in state government that many of you have taken in your businesses a long time ago."