LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s May 18 announcement that he is seeking ideas from the public for improving state services and government efficiency has elicited hundreds of responses, some of which officials say are substantive and constructive, while others are less so.
The state Department of Finance and Administration provided the Arkansas News Bureau on Friday with 391 submissions the myidea.arkansas.gov website had received since the site’s launch eight days earlier.
DF&A has one person at a time reviewing the submissions — with the job rotating between several employees — to see whether they merit being forwarded to state agencies for consideration. Each agency has 30 days to report back on any idea it receives.
“There are a lot of ideas here that are very substantive ideas, there are a lot of ideas here that frankly are not constructive,” said agency spokesman Jake Bleed. “Those ideas that we think are not constructive we’re not going to forward.”
Bleed said ideas that fall outside the parameters of the governor’s call for ideas — ways to improve state services and make state government operate more efficiently — include ones that concern policy issues. Those comments would more properly be directed to members of the state Legislature, he said.
“No more executions,” reads one of several submissions stating opposition to the death penalty.
Multiple submissions also express opposition to plans to place a 10 Commandments memorial on the state Capitol grounds — plans that have been approved by the Legislature, the governor and the state Capitol Arts and Grounds Commission.
“Don’t build the 10 Commandment monument. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars because it will just lead to lawsuits,” reads one suggestion.
“Acknowledge Arkansas as the constitutional carry state it is,” reads one of several submissions on open carry of handguns.
A number of suggestions concern federal, county or local government rather than state government. DF&A has not yet decided whether to forward relevant submissions to city and county governments or associations, Bleed said.
Many people have submitted ideas that do apply to state government, such as: moving the Office of Volunteerism from the Department of Human Services to the governor’s office; consolidating state agencies in each county into one building; selling naming rights to roadways ad bridges; and allowing DHS to receive abuse and neglect reports via cell phone photos.
One person suggested requiring state agencies to make data available in publicly accessible, periodically updated databases.
“Current access to state government data is locked behind clunky and cumbersome web interfaces that aren’t conducive to easy analysis,” the person wrote.
Another person suggested creating an ombudsman position at every state agency.
“The ultimate goal would be to greatly reduce — if not eliminate — costly litigation and lost productivity/low morale in the workplace, classroom and community by resolving conflicts informally,” the person wrote.
One person suggested, “Improve the state’s investment return by allowing state funds to be deposited into Arkansas credit unions instead of exclusively in banks.”
Another suggested, “Unify the state’s marketing efforts — Arkansas Economic Development Commission, Arkansas Parks and Tourism, Game and Fish — with variations on a common brand executed by a single agency or complementary partners.”
“I’m actually impressed by the number of substantive ideas,” Bleed said.
Some of the less constructive submissions consist of criticism of specific elected officials.
“Gov. Asa Hutchinson should resign,” reads one suggestion.
Others submissions apparently are attempts at humor.
One reads, “We need an app that you can use to take a picture of your food. It can then determine whether it is a hotdog, or conversely, ‘not hotdog.’”