Jerry Brown Blows up the Boxes Schwarzenegger Left Behind

Tuesday, July 03, 2012


In Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 2004 State of the State address, he 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 blow them up, but Jerry Brown did. Not all the boxes, mind you, but enough so that the reorganization scheduled to take effect this week will require more than a little paper shuffling and nameplate swapping. 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.  

It probably won’t save the state a lot of money, but the overhaul will make some common sense regroupings of departments, boards and commissions, while enhancing the governor’s authority over the sprawling executive branch he oversees. The Legislature is finishing up its review of the plan but will apparently make few changes.

The number of sprawling agencies will be reduced from 12 to 10, and incorporate a rearrangement of departments that will, in effect, create three new agencies: the Transportation Agency, the Business and Consumer Agency and the Government Operations Agency. The Department of Corporations and the Department of Financial Institutions will be combined into the new Department of Business Oversight, and a number of departments will be consolidated into the Department of Consumer Affairs.   

The new Transportation Agency picks up the transportation entities from the expiring Business, Transportation and Housing Agency and 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.

The new Government Operations Agency sucks up the state service operations that were in the expiring State and Consumer Services Agency and adds the California Technology Agency.

The consumer-oriented departments that were in the State and Consumer Services Agency join business-related departments from the dying Business, Transportation and Housing Agency in the new Business and Consumer Services Agency.

Other departmental regroupings, shifts and disappearing acts that touch on more than 30 areas of government will be rolled out in the coming months, perhaps making the stationary business in Sacramento one of the few growth industries in the state.

Schwarzenegger proposed major government reorganizations in 2004 and 2005 and took one last stab at it in 2009, but never got very far dealing with a hostile Legislature holding veto power and an entrenched bureaucracy. In January 2005, he targeted 88 boards and commissions for obliteration, but hit a legislative wall and dropped the proposal a month later.   

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Largest Government Overhaul Set to Go into Effect (Associated Press)

Schwarzenegger Promise to Blow up Boxes Fizzled (Associated Press)

A Review of Government Reorganization Plan No. 2 (Legislative Analyst’s Office)

Leave a comment