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Infrastructure management one area where state needs to run like a business

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: February 1, 2013

Even greater challenges impede management of the state's physical infrastructure. Some needs are obvious. The state medical examiner's office needs to be replaced and the Capitol is literally crumbling. But beyond that things can get murky because, until recently, officials didn't know how many buildings and acres of land state government owned! House Speaker T.W. Shannon, R-Lawton, has worked on this issue for several years and Fallin is also active in the effort.

“We have kept basically no centralized record system of the assets of our state — the buildings we own, the property we own, the cars, fleets, vehicles and airplanes that we own,” Fallin said.

The governor asked the Office of Management and Enterprise Services to compile a database of state properties. The review has identified one state-owned building that's only 20 percent occupied. Some agencies have properties that have been vacant for decades — yet the state continues to pay utility and insurance costs at those sites. In one case, the state owns hundreds of acres sitting idle.

Fallin and Shannon have both called for selling unused and underused state property and redirecting the money raised to more pressing needs. That's a good start — but only a start.

No private business could survive without closely monitoring payroll. The county assessor would never let a private citizen lose track of property. Yet state government seems to have failed at both basic managerial tasks. When it comes to infrastructure management, this is one area government should truly run like a business.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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