More and more Americans in recent years have been “cutting the cord” to save money.
It turns out that Aaron Burkes, president of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority (ADFA), did the same after he took the job in 2015.
Burkes told The Arkansas Project in an interview:
We cancelled the cable TV in the conference room. That’s not a lot of money when you look at our entire budget. But it sends an important message.
Burkes has also overseen a significant reduction in overall staff size of the agency. The agency had 57 employees for the 62 positions appropriated when Burkes came on board in 2015. Now ADFA has 48 employees and state funding for 60 positions.
That’s about a 16 percent reduction in staffing — achieved in a short amount of time.
Burkes said the reduction was possible due to streamlining duplicate and redundant processes within the agency.
We significantly improved the quality of our staff. By any objective standard, we’ve improved the quality of the agency’s workforce; we’ve increased the number of people with advanced degrees and certifications. We’ve made some excellent new hires.
We went through every single department and every process we had. We discovered that we had a lot of duplications and redundant processes. We streamlined a fair number of processes and made them a lot less labor-intensive.
Overall, Burkes said a rough conservative estimate would be that the staff reductions saved taxpayers around $400,000 to $500,000 annually.
We’ve developed a culture in here where we’ve encouraged people to think about how they can save taxpayer money and provide more value to the public. When we had our receptionist leave, we decided to move two people to the front who are doing program work; they can do their work and serve as a receptionist. That was their idea; it wasn’t mine. That wouldn’t work in every agency, but here we have a low volume of visitors.
We’ve combined a number of positions and we’ve made the refreshing discovery that, in some cases, one person can do the work that, in a few cases in the past, two people were doing.
Burkes and the ADFA are just another example of the good work many state agencies have been doing in recent years to be more efficient with taxpayer dollars. You can read our previous stories on other agencies here and here.