Merrill: Doing more with less

Published 3:07 pm Tuesday, August 20, 2019

John H. Merrill
Alabama Secretary of State

Just this past week, Forbes reported that President Donald Trump reduced his payroll and saved American taxpayers more than $20 million. He reduced staff, eliminated excess spending, and still, government continued to operate more successfully than it has in years. While his predecessor spent eight years filling the Executive Branch with political employees, friends and cronies, President Trump is actively reducing his office budget and returning money to the taxpayers.

Here in Alabama, I have followed that same philosophy. Reducing overhead and staffing costs and increasing efficiency. Since Jan. 19, 2015, the Office of Alabama’s Secretary of State has set new standards for excellence in efficiency and cost savings in state government. In total, we have saved more than $2.8 million dollars for Alabama taxpayers by reducing staff and increasing efficiencies, just as Trump has done at the federal level.

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We reduced our office staff from 49 employees to its current staff of 36 employees. We reduced the wait time for business filings. When we arrived, those filings could take from seven to nine months to complete. For the past three years, we were able to condense that time to same-day processing.

We have also introduced automatic business filings that are available to every county, which our office pays for at no expense to the county of origin. We no longer receive a general fund appropriation from the Legislature because in 2016, we asked them to zero our office out of the general fund budget making us fully self-sufficient without using general fund tax dollars. We no longer operate at the speed of government, we operate at the speed of business.

We have done all this with less money and less people. Simply put, we’ve done more with less and have made it easier and quicker for new business to form in our state.

It can be done, and it should be done throughout all sectors of our state and federal government. The swamp in Washington D.C. is full of wasteful spending that is propagated by endless debt hike politicians.

Government should not be in the business of creating government jobs. It should be in the business of creating an environment where the free market creates private sector jobs.

It’s not enough for government to operate like a business, we also must force it to operate at the speed of business, and that means doing more with less, so taxpayers have more, not less.

We’ve done exactly that in the Alabama Secretary of State’s office and we encourage all sectors of our government to do what we have done and what Trump has done. Cut waste and do more for the taxpayers without spending so much taxpayer money.