California Rolls out Major Reorganization of Government Agencies

Monday, July 01, 2013

A comprehensive reorganization (pdf) of California state government, proposed by Governor Jerry Brown and adjusted by the Legislature, is kicking into high gear today.

The plan was approved a year ago and has been implemented piecemeal over the succeeding months. The total number of giant agencies has been reduced from 12 to 10 and dozens of departments, boards and commissions have been eliminated and reconfigured. Carole D'Elia, executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, said it was the most ambitious of the 36 reorganizations her agency has vetted since 1968.  

As of today, three new agencies replace five existing ones. The Government Operations Agency will oversee departments that handle procurement, information technology and human resources including: the new Department of Human Resources, the Department of General Services and the Franchise Tax Board. It sucks up the state service operations that were in the expiring State and Consumer Services Agency and adds the California Technology Agency, albeit with a new name, the Department of Technology. Marybel Batjer will be the agency secretary.

The Business, Consumer Services and Housing Agency will be responsible for licensing and oversight of industries, businesses and other professionals. The consumer-oriented departments that were in the expiring State and Consumer Services Agency (SCSA) join business-related departments from the dying Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BTHA). Major departments under its wing include: the Department of Housing and Community Development, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the Department of Consumer Affairs, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the Horse Racing Board. Anna Cabellero, who ran the SCSA, will be in charge.

The new Transportation Agency picks up the transportation entities from the expiring BTHA, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), the California Department of Transportation (CALTRANS), California Highway Patrol, the Board of Pilot Commissioners and the Office of Traffic Safety. The agency also adds the California Transportation Commission and the High-Speed Rail Authority, which are currently stand-alone boards. Absorption of High-Speed Rail is particularly controversial as the state approaches critical deadlines for reshaping the bullet train project. Brian Kelly will be in charge.

Many of the changes have already been made but aren’t yet evident on the state’s official website. They continue to be phased in on an irregular basis.

California law gives broad deference to the governor to make changes in the structure of the executive branch. But it didn’t go too well the last time a governor took a stab at it. At his inauguration in 2004, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Every governor proposes moving boxes around to reorganize government. I don’t want to move the boxes around; I want to blow them up.”

He didn’t. And neither did Governor Brown. But the independent Little Hoover Commission, which by law reviews the governor’s proposal, called it “a first step in the much-needed restructuring of California state government” but warned that it probably wouldn’t save the government much money, if any, in the immediate future.  

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Overhaul of State Agencies to Take Effect Monday (by Laura Olson, Associated Press)

Governor Brown Appoints New Agency Secretaries Ahead of Government Reorganization (Office of the Governor)

A Review of Government Reorganization Plan No. 2 (Little Hoover Commission) (pdf)

Jerry Brown Blows up the Boxes Schwarzenegger Left Behind (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

Leave a comment