COMMENTARY: GEAR a great example of cooperation to fix state government in Delaware

Like many citizens, I spent a good part of 2017 concerned about the polarization of the elected officials that lead us. People that I respect, both Democrat and Republican, are putting party loyalty above state and country. While this divisiveness is the worst I have experienced in my lifetime, I am starting to be optimistic, at least in Delaware, that 2018 will bring many leaders back to a higher level of cooperation.

A great example of government cooperation is the work of Delaware’s new Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board(GEAR) established by Gov. Carney last year. Their first-year report was quietly released on Dec. 1, 2017. This report contains a wide range of innovative ideas and actions that will improve the effectiveness, efficiency and outcomes of many state services.

Bill Bowden

One example of these ideas moving forward is to address the out-of-control cost of health. Delaware Democrats and Republicans all agree that when spending the taxpayer’s money, we need to focus on getting the best bang for our buck. I am very impressed with the breadth and depth of this first report and encourage those interested in these goals to review the report on the state’s website.

The GEAR team is comprised of Democrats and Republicans, all three branches of government, other elected officials, union officials, our legislature and Delaware’s private industry. The board is filled with many strong, knowledgeable leaders who can really make this happen if politics doesn’t get in the way. It is great to see a forum where leaders like the chief justice of Delaware are rolling up their sleeves side-by-side with employees who actually do the work, to develop recommendations for increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of our government. Their level of cooperation and commitment is a shining example of what government can and should be.

This team and its newly expanded membership, including front-line state employees, is capitalizing on their extensive knowledge base to develop bold and broad suggestions for improvement. In 2018, while continuing to develop improvement ideas, they will also focus on more detailed implementation plans.

They also have provided a way for interested citizens and all state employees to provide feedback and ideas for improvement. They have received over 200 suggestions so far. They welcome your ideas and comments at their “Idea Factory” found on the state’s website.

This is your opportunity to share your constructive ideas to make state government work better for all of Delaware. Share what you think the problem is, your proposed solution, and the benefits of implementation. This is your opportunity to be part of the solution!

I recognize the cynics will say this is just another take no action “task force.” With our support, along with all three branches of government, it won’t be. The GEAR initiative is a journey, creating a statewide culture of performance excellence. They have only just begun and will need the continuing support of all stakeholders to make the needed changes. We should encourage legislators and all statewide leaders to get behind this initiative. This is intended to be a transparent process and you can find additional details of their ongoing progress by exploring the GEAR website.

In an earlier column, I detailed many needed changes that would improve the operations of Delaware’s government. This is a bold step in that direction. In my opinion, the GEAR initiative holds the possibility of being one of the most significant contributions to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the operations of our state by any administration or sitting legislature in our history. Please join me in applauding their efforts to date and encouraging their ongoing commitment to our state!

Their next meeting is Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Haslet Armory, 122 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. South, Dover.

For more information, visit https://gear.delaware.gov

Bill Bowden is a retired Verizon Delaware executive, past president of the Delaware Quality Award, and served for eight years in state government as the executive director of Delaware’s Department of Technology and Information.

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