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Bill proposes consolidating state administrative services
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A Hall County Republican is trying to change the way state government looks and save the state some money in the meantime.

Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, is proposing legislation that would consolidate three of the state’s main administrative services, including accounting, personnel and properties.

House Bill 1431 would bring all three functions, which are currently handled by individual departments, into a single new state agency called the Georgia Services Administration.

If it becomes law, the bill likely would save the state at least $5 million in its first year, Collins said. The bill would go into effect July 1, and could provide the framework for future savings from consolidation of other government services, he said.

The costs involved in creating the agency would be “limited,” but savings in space and personnel will be “more than sufficient” to cover those costs, Collins said.

The decision of how many state jobs will be lost to the consolidation would be up to the new commissioner of the Georgia Services Administration, Collins said. The commissioner would be appointed by the governor.

“At this point, it gives us a good first start in taking on a budget that’s been very challenging, but looking also at it from not just simply a cut standpoint but also from a position of how we’re making efficiencies in the current government structure,” Collins said.

The foundation for the bill was laid out in a report made by the Commission for a New Georgia. But it was the current year’s budget crisis that set up the timing.

“These are things that have been thought about for a long time, but the year that we’re in right now lends itself to looking at it harder and pushing ahead,” Collins said. “And given the fact that we’re also looking at an election year where you’re having a change in governor for next year,  no matter what, it gives us a time for a fresh start with a fresh look in those departments.”

Collins is scheduled to defend the bill in front of the House Appropriations Committee at 1 p.m. today. A PowerPoint presentation he plans to use in the hearing states that 28 states consolidate personnel, accounting and properties into one agency.

Collins calls the 100-plus page bill one of the best he’s worked on. While the bill is still a “work in progress,” Collins said “it needs to move forward.” Crossover day, the day in which all bills must pass out of its original chamber or die, is set for Friday.

“I think, in the end, this just shows that we’re looking at alternatives on how government services, especially intergovernment services, are delivered and how we can make that more efficient,” Collins said. “From my perspective, personally, that’s one of the reasons that I think government exists is to always look at itself and always make sure we’re delivering the best, efficient model and do the best we can with the  taxpayer’s dollar.”