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Arizona privatization commission misses deadline

With the legislative session about to start, a commission appointed by Gov. Jan Brewer has missed a year-end deadline to recommend steps that the state can take to privatize services and improve efficiency of programs.

The 11-member Commission on Privatization and Efficiency issued a September initial report that made general vague policy recommendations along with possible nips and tucks on things like cell phone contracts and computer inactivity.

The commission was supposed to issue a final report with meatier and longer-term proposals, including steps that could be implemented for the next fiscal year starting July 1, by Dec. 31.

Arizona’s effort is similar to those being conducted by other states with budget troubles, prompting governors and other officials to press for potential cost savings.

The Arizona commission’s chairman, Gaming Department Director Mark Brnovich, did not respond to requests for comment, and spokeswoman Talio Otto said in an e-mail that officials didn’t want to comment on the next report until it’s finished, which she indicated could be “toward the end of this month.”

Delays in releasing any recommendations that require legislative approval to implement could limit the time that advocacy groups and the general public have to weigh in before lawmakers act on possible changes to state laws.

The Legislature’s annual session starts Monday, and legislative leaders have said they’ll push to complete it within several months.

While most of commission’s members are officials who work in Brewer’s administration, a non-administration member of the commission said uncertainty resulting from the leadup to the November general election campaign seemed to be a major factor in the commission’s work not being further along.

Brewer, a Republican, defeated Democrat Terry Goddard on Nov. 2, winning a four-year term.

The commission member, Yavapai County Supervisor Carol Springer, also said there were indications that some ideas being formulated by the commission did not draw favor from Brewer’s staff, resulting in a new effort by the commission “to work a little more closely with the governor and the governor’s staff.”

Several commission members had said in November they expected the panel to recommend privatizing at least some state parks and increasing the use of privately operated prisons. Both ideas likely would stir controversy.

Springer said she didn’t know what the commission would recommend, and another commission member, House Speaker Kirk Adams, declined to discuss his expectations.

Adams, R-Mesa, said the final report is being compiled. “I don’t want to reveal any of the work at this point until the final report has been completed and vetted,” he said.

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