Gov. Hutchinson, state officials unveil online ‘idea’ suggestion box, phone line

by Wesley Brown (wesbrocomm@gmail.com) 160 views 

If you’ve got a suggestion to shorten that line at the DMV, now there is a place to submit that idea online or by phone without taking a number.

MyIdea.Arkansas.gov.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, along with top officials from the state’s Office of Transformation, announced the launch of an online suggestion box Thursday (May 18) that will give ordinary Arkansans a way to recommend ideas to improve services, increase efficiencies and streamline state government.

“We are looking for ideas that will relate to improving (state) government to its citizens,” Hutchinson told reporters gathered at the state capitol. “As any good businessman or retailer knows, the best idea comes from the customers. So we want to listen to the customers of state government by the presentation of a (website) that you go to and enter in your idea.”

According to Hutchinson and Amy Fecher, director of the state’s 17-month old transformation office, current Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) employees will staff the MyIdea telephone line and website once the new ideas start coming in.

DF&A staff will then determine which agency is best equipped to assess an idea, then forward it to the head of that agency. The governor has directed each agency to report back on an idea within 30 days. DF&A and the Office of Transformation, housed in the Governor’s office, will track the responses.

Hutchinson said the state’s new idea portal is part of the administration’s continuing efforts to make Arkansas government more efficient and seamless. During the recent 2017 legislation session, the General Assembly passed more than eight different bills that reformed state pay plans, consolidated several boards and commissions, and reorganized several state agencies.

Those efforts included moving the state Office of Energy into the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality and putting the War Memorial Stadium Commission under the management of the state Department of Parks & Tourism.

“These initiatives will help drive economic development, increase educational opportunity, ease the tax burden and enable us to more efficiently serve the people of our state,” Hutchinson said after lawmakers approved his entire 2017 legislative agenda.

NOT A COMPLAINT LINE
Hutchinson said he hopes that citizens across the state that are used to a “mobile society” will present ideas to state bureaucrats and push the state to make additional changes that streamline government processes, cut paperwork and red tape, and deliver better service.

The popular Republican governor, who announced plans earlier this week to seek re-election for the state’s top office in 2018, said ultimately he hopes ideas that are reviewed and implemented will lead to more cost-cutting measures that make better use of state resources.

In addition, Hutchinson said he has asked Fecher’s office and associated state agencies to review and revamp the state’s emergency communication system, overhaul the state’s data center operations, and upgrade DF&A’s procurement system to a digital platform.

“A lot is already going on. This is just an opportunity to focus on MyIdea,” he said.

In response to questions from reporters, Hutchinson emphasized that the new state portal and phone bank is not a complaint line. “At first, you are likely to get all kinds of calls coming in, but as time goes on … you are really going to have some genuine, good ideas that we will be able to take off with,” he said.

Hutchinson said over the next six months he hopes there will be some new ideas from citizens that state officials will be able to implement. Besides DF&A, an advisory board within the Office of Transformation that includes lawmakers, business leaders and state policymakers will also be a part of the evaluation process to determine if the ideas have merit and can be implemented within state government.

“It’s a meritocracy. If it is a good idea, we are going to embrace it, but you have good checks and balances in the system,” the governor said. “So, you are going to have many eyes on it that will evaluate it and make sure there is a proper sifting mechanism. There are going to be some (great) ideas … that come in that might cost a hundred million dollars. Then all of sudden, we have our friends in the legislature who have to be engaged because it is a budget issue.”

Starting today, Arkansans may submit ideas online at www.myidea.arkansas.gov or by phone at (844) 7MY-IDEA or (501) 683-IDEA.

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