ATLANTA (November 17, 2008) – The joint Senate Appropriations subcommittee continued its meeting series today with the Human Development subcommittee and the Best Value in Government Task Force joint workshop at the Capitol.  The subcommittee discussed agency reports, efficiencies, and cost savings for the Department of Labor, Department of Veterans Services, and Department of Human Resources (DHR).  Senators Renee Unterman (R-Buford) and Mitch Seabaugh (R-Sharpsburg) co-chaired the meeting. 

“We are working hand-in-hand with every state agency to ensure their budgets reflect the fiscal responsibility and non-wasteful spending taxpayers expect, while protecting the well-being of our veterans and labor services,” said Unterman.  “We must maintain our commitment to care for these honorable men and women who served our country and help Georgia’s unemployed citizens find quality jobs so they can provide for their families.”

Each agency presented an overview of programs, efficiencies, and cost savings that have been implemented.  The current budgets were submitted and several agencies were asked to provide further detailed information on particular programs or services.  Members of the committee focused on uncovering duplicated services and redundancies between agencies.

Several issues discussed today were the Department of Labor’s business enterprise program expenditures that help employ persons with sight or hearing disabilities, operations costs for their Warm Springs rehabilitation facility, their workforce development centers, and plans to combine administrative offices and functions to streamline its costs and operations.  The Department of Veterans Affairs briefed the committee on their Veterans Memorial Cemetery operations and the closing of the Georgia War Veterans Nursing Home in Milledgeville. 

The panel also heard testimony from DHR Commissioner B.J. Walker about the administrative operations, programs, and logistical structure of every agency department including Family and Children Services, Child Support, and Public Health.   The subcommittee encouraged that DHR continue to evaluate the cost benefit of potential outsourcing opportunities, privatizing certain agency services, and combining resources with other departments to streamline expenditures.

Additional joint workshops are scheduled through mid-December.  Topics for those meetings include education and fiscal management.  The workshops are being held at the request of Lt. Governor Casey Cagle, who has charged the Senate to proactively identify non-essential government services and maximize efficiency and value in our state government.