Courage consulting

By: 
Bob Bonnar

It is being widely reported that Governor Matt Mead’s office signed a $1.8 million contract this month with an out-of-state management consulting firm whose public services division in Washington D.C. is going to tell legislators and the next governor how to make state government in Wyoming more efficient and less expensive.

Wyoming already paid this company $300,000 for an initial efficiency study in 2017, and it really isn’t a surprise that the consultant recomended the state needed more consulting. That’s the way these deals usually work. We’re also not surprised that many of this state’s elected officials are eager to write another big check to the firm, but it is disappointing to see that nobody in Cheyenne learned anything from the recently failed attempt to cut education spending by calling in outside consultants to tell us where and how to make those cuts.

In both cases, elected officials are telling voters in conservative Wyoming that spending in state government needs to be curtailed. Unfortunately, when the time comes to actually make a decision to decrease spending, elected officials invariably lack the conviction to stand by a decision that may impact services enjoyed by the people who vote for them — or that may have an effect on compensation or working conditions for the state employees who provide those services.

We could probably be a little understanding of the desire of elected officials to have a hired gun make the dirty decisions they don’t want to make themselves, but we learned in the ongoing debate over education spending that officials often aren’t willing to weather the political heat of implementing the cuts recomended by the consultants anyway. The fact is, officials already know where the fat is, but they lack the courage to trim it, even when they do have a consultant’s recomendation to back them up — which means hiring an efficiency consultant is the most inefficient thing we could possibly do..

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