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Gov. Jerry Brown wants to cut 718 unnecessary, defunct reports

April 17, 2012 |  4:36 pm

Brown budget

Gov. Jerry Brown has sought to make a name for himself as a tight-fisted executive, demanding that state agencies turn in unnecessary cars and thousands of cellphones.

On Tuesday he announced another plan to trim costs -- eliminating requirements for 718 bureaucratic reports deemed useless.

“It wastes a lot of time and money to write, track and file these reports,” Brown said in a statement. “Government should be focused on providing information that is actually helpful to taxpayers, not on checking boxes to meet outdated bureaucratic requirements.”

The governor’s office did not say how much money will be saved, but spokeswoman Elizabeth Ashford said the administration estimates “significant savings in terms of employee productivity and printing and distribution costs.”

However, less than half of the 718 reports are required to be produced at regular intervals, such as quarterly or every five years. And some of those reports -- such as a monthly study on the response to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 -- are no longer produced anyway, according to two lists released by the governor’s office.

Many of the reporting requirements slated for elimination have already been fulfilled or become obsolete. For example, a one-time report on abolishing the Office of Criminal Justice Planning was submitted in October 2003. Other reports were never completed in the first place. The Department of Transportation was supposed to study whether devices used to override traffic signals would help reduce accidents involving emergency vehicles. The department never got federal funding for the study and a report was never written.

Both of those reports are among the dozens of defunct studies that count toward the 718 requirements Brown wants eliminated. Still, Ashford said removing reporting requirements can lift a burden on state government and taxpayers.

“Making an assumption that because something is not printed it doesn’t have a cost is incorrect,” she said. “When you talk about streamlining government, you have to tackle it from all sides.”

The Legislature needs to vote to abolish requirements for 375 of the reports. The other 343 will be eliminated by Brown’s administration.

Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet), the ranking Republican on the budget committee, said eliminating reporting requirements is “perfectly reasonable” but unlikely to add up to significant savings.

“The governor is better served convincing legislative Democrats that they need to stop opposing his proposed spending reductions and welfare reforms,” he said.

Photo: Gov. Jerry Brown outlining his budget proposal for reporters in the Capitol in January. Credit: Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press


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-- Chris Megerian in Sacramento

Twitter: @chrismegerian