From The House Media Division ~ If Oklahoma’s institutions of higher education and state government simply streamlined processes it could result in significant savings on behalf of the taxpayers, presenters told members of the House Higher Education Committee today.
The legislative study on Oklahoma’s colleges was requested by state Reps. Corey Holland and Jason Murphey after higher education institutions were successful in winning exemptions from several government modernization reform initiatives.
Of particular interest to the legislators is higher education’s ongoing exemption from the Oklahoma Central Purchasing Act. A 2006 consultant report from IBM found that the state could save millions of dollars by reforming its central purchasing system and by working with state colleges to leverage spending power.
While the Legislature acted on this report and enacted purchasing system reforms that are saving millions of dollars, the state’s centralized purchasing system has yet to include higher education institutions. It appears that millions more could be saved if state purchasing officials collaborated with Oklahoma’s universities and colleges.
Committee members were also told that another important savings opportunity could be realized if higher education’s OneNet fiber network would be consolidated under the state’s centralized technology infrastructure. This network could be used to lower to cost of bandwidth to state agencies and provide a solution to the state’s public safety interoperability challenges.
“As the government modernization effort continues to demonstrate tangible savings on behalf of the taxpayers, it becomes very important for Oklahoma’s policy makers to provide institutions of higher education with access to these money saving processes,” said Murphey R-Guthrie.
“At a time when Oklahoma families struggle to pay the ever-increasing cost of tuition and fees, it makes no sense for our state not to consider real cost savings,” said Holland, R-Marlow. “If by the colleges making some modernization reforms the cost of government for the taxpayers can be reduced, then I believe these reforms should be seriously considered.”