Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

“Small Things Matter”

05/29/2015

Column Transcript

One of the many great stories about the way Sam Walton did business involves a young Walmart employee who figured out a simple way to save money. The associate had the job of delivering printed reports internally within the company. Over time, he noticed something. He was just adding the new stack to the last stack.

People weren’t reading the printed reports. Why? Because they already had all the data electronically.

At one time, those written reports were essential, but technology had made them obsolete. The young associate approached Sam Walton about this waste and, at the next senior staff meeting, Mister Sam and the young man carted out a large pile of unread reports.

He had demonstrated his point. His employees could literally see the waste.

The subsequent elimination of those printed reports added up to big savings. It was a small, practical thing that made a big difference.

This week, legislators overwhelmingly passed my plan to reorganize four state agencies in an effort to make your government work smarter and more efficiently.

These practical “efficiencies” included elevating the Department of Rural Services and the Arkansas Science and Technology Authority into the Economic Development Commission. This enhances the importance of both Rural Services and Science and Technology while also providing them more support and coordination.

Also, the Arkansas Building Authority moves to the Department of Finance and Administration, and the Division of Land Survey merges into the Arkansas Geographic Information Office. These reorganizations will enhance, modernize and provide better resources for these agencies. All while saving money.

I liked what Sen. Jim Hendren had to say about these changes: “What I see happening is the same thing I do and other business people do every day: look for ways to deliver the same services at a more economic cost to taxpayers. If one person can do both of those functions, it makes no sense to taxpayers to duplicate that effort.”

Senator Hendren is right. After all, it’s your money we’re spending. We have a sacred trust to manage it properly.

Over a 10-year period, these small steps could result in a potential savings of up to $25 million. Over five years, we could realize potential savings of up to $12 million.

That’s real money. But what I really like is that we’ll be saving money while making government more responsive.

More savings, better customer service.

I have a feeling Sam Walton would like that philosophy.