The business and private sectors should appreciate the goals of the Ducey administration’s initiative to improve government referred to as the Arizona Management System (AMS), which focuses on understanding “customer” needs, identifying problems, improving processes and measuring results. There are 42 state agencies that have all engaged in the process of identifying opportunity to increase efficiencies and value while delivering on core departmental functions. The following are but a handful of examples of what is working in Arizona:
The Arizona Commerce Authority (ACA) in response to calls from the Arizona business community called for streamlined regulation. Immediately the Governor and Legislature approved fundamental changes in the administration of Arizona’s regulatory structure, including Gov. Doug Ducey placing a moratorium on new regulations again this year. To date, Arizona has eliminated over 1,000 regulations, which equates to millions saved. The state’s commitment to reducing red tape and paperwork makes it considerably easier and more efficient for businesses to locate, start up and expand.
The Arizona Mexico Commission (AMC) is committed to making sure Arizona’s borders move at the speed of business and is actively working to reduce border wait times through innovative programs like Unified Cargo Processing, a joint U.S.-Mexico inspection program piloted at the Nogales Port of Entry. Safe infrastructure is a priority for both sides of the border; it keeps commerce and tourism moving.
The Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) created an online permitting platform that has dramatically improved permitting time frames with an estimated economic benefit of $145 million each year. What’s even better, is that ADEQ funded the initiative by finding surplus funds – better service for no additional cost. ADEQ has also accelerated their hazardous waste clean-up program (known as WQARF). This equates to better efficiency and increased environmental protection simultaneously.
The Arizona Department of Water Resources (ADWR) invested significant effort into public awareness, which has improved the public’s understanding and interest in water supply issues. This has been important as it has also led to a broader understanding in the local and State government of what we need to do to address these issues.
ADWR has also taken the steps necessary to improve customer service in permitting and application review. An example of this is computing and issuance of water recharge credits, taking a process that historically could take 2 years and reducing that in some instances to mere weeks or even days.
The Arizona State Land Department (ASLD) has evolved from simply managing land to realizing their critical role in economic development by improving a cumbersome commercial sales process and reducing time to attain rights of way approvals.
The Arizona Game and Fish Department (AZGF) has also seen significant change. For example, over the past two years the AZGF has significantly reduced the time it takes to report Big Game Hunt Draw results to its “customers” using AMS tools. What used to take up to 65 days to complete now takes less than 25 days.
Recently, there was a proposal to list the Sonoran desert tortoise on the Endangered Species List. Had this unwarranted listing been imposed, it would have had the potential to adversely impact Arizona’s economy by billions of dollars. The Department used internal priority establishment tools to ensure that the appropriate listing decision was made, which served both conservation and economic development.
The Arizona Geological Survey (AZGS) has been assessing the potential for damaging flooding and debris flows in the aftermath of wildfires. This study made reasonable assumptions about wildfires that could occur and employed innovative modeling techniques to identify downstream areas that could be at risk of flooding or debris flows that would impact Arizona communities.
AZGS has also developed the first comprehensive state-wide compilation of known fissures and landslides, available on the on-line AZGS Natural Hazards Viewer. Knowing where fissures or landslides exist is fundamental for either avoiding them or mitigating their negative impacts.
The Arizona Department of Transportation’s (ADOT/MVD) goal is to get customers in and out of the office – on average – in fewer than 30 minutes. MVD averages slightly over 20 minutes in urban offices and just under 19 minutes in rural locations. Three years ago, that number was 52 minutes. Additionally, an analysis of MVD customer traffic shows an upsurge in online usage at ServiceArizona.com, an increase of about 286,000 online transactions; which is essentially the same amount of traffic experienced at two large urban “brick and mortar” MVD offices. Finally, since ADOT began using facial recognition technology and training in 2015 to protect Arizonans from identity theft, detectives have brought a multitude of these cases to court.
AMS is simply one great example of how government can and should operate at the speed of business, efficiently and by assisting economic growth. A different approach has led to a vastly improved outcome which has greatly benefited Arizona’s citizens.
Steve Trussell is executive director of the Arizona Rock Products Association.