Governor Proposes Consolidating Some Smaller State Agencies

Albany, NY – Paterson said in his State of the State message that he plans to
consolidate a number of state agencies with related missions, as a
means of streamlining government and saving money.

In a teleconference call, Paterson's Director of State Operations,
Valerie Grey, said the governor's budget proposal includes merging
the Department of Economic Development and the Empire State
Development Corporation into one entity, and consolidating several
agencies, including the Crime Victims Board and Office for Prevention
of Domestic Violence into the Division of Criminal Justice Services.
She says human resources, grant applications and legal departments
could be shared.

"We're really trying to change the way we do business around here,"
said Grey. "And shake things up a little bit."

The plan would merge a number of emergency service agencies into the
Division of Homeland Security, and the offices of Medicaid Inspector
General and Welfare Inspector General would share support services.
It would also consolidate all licensing for business professionals
into one electronic system, and merge agency call centers into one
unified system.

Many of the agencies involved in the consolidations are small, and
the savings is estimated at just $15 million dollars, but Grey says
this is just the first step. She says more mergers, perhaps on a
large scale, are expected. She says no lay offs would occur as a
result of the changes, but four management level positions could be

"We plan to very aggressively manage attrition," said Grey.

A spokesman for the largest state worker union, the Civil Service
Employees Association, Steve Madarasz, says the union is remaining
neutral on the mergers, as long as there are indeed no lays offs and
the ultimate arrangement "provides administrative savings without
compromising service".

"We certainly would be supportive," said Madarasz.

The union agreed with the governor to give up some benefits for
future employees in exchange for no lay offs of state workers in
Paterson's state spending plan.

Business groups praised the proposal, saying it is long overdue, and
would improve government efficiency.

While the governor can do some of the consolidations on his own, he
will need legislative approval to formally merge some of the agencies.
In a statement, Senate Finance Committee Vice Chair Liz Krueger says
she thinks the governor should go even further.