Our View: More bureaucracy is not the answer

It is only apropos that we use the figure of speech, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” in debating another legislative task force recommendation to create an Arkansas Department of Transportation that would be responsible for more than roads. Get this, lawmakers on this so-called Intermodal Transportation and Commerce Task Force, are seriously talking about reorganizing the state Highway and Transportation Department to include the Arkansas Waterways commission as well as the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics. We all know that the independent Arkansas Department of Transportation can’t even deal with the massive issues in maintaining our existing roads, highways and bridges much less take on the responsibility of dealing with waterway issues and challenges as well as whatever this so-called Aeronautics bunch of bureaucrats do. Let’s all step back a moment and revisit the enormous problems that this state’s multibillion-dollar Arkansas Department of Health and Human Services, the largest bureaucratic agency in the state, has and is encountering. This is a state agency that has been overrun with mismanagement, enormous waste and inefficiency. It is responsible for everything from handing out free food stamps, free medical care under the state’s Private Option, to dealing with elderly health care, nursing homes as well as the various needs of children, whether it be behavioral issues or finding them a foster home. This one massive DHS, with its hundreds of government employees, is absolute proof that any one agency taking on more responsibilities than it can effectively handle may just not be the best route to take. This is a perfect example why lawmakers should tread very lightly as they proceed down this path and believing that this is a move that will be beneficial to all concerned. While many onlookers believe that this actually be a step in the right direction it must also be clearly understood that becoming bigger isn’t altogether better as evidence as to the major and monumental DHS issues. We will be perfectly honest by saying our opinion based on our observations will probably mean very little to this politicians who have been charged with the task of creating an Arkansas Department of Transportation capable of focusing on economic development opportunities. Even Sen. Eddie Joe Williams, R-Cabot, the task force chairman, says creating such a Department of Transportation would be what he described as a “monster”. Let’s go back to how all this concern started. Rep. Mathew W. Pitsh, R-Ford Smith, who was the primary author of the piece of legislation to create this task force, said transportation companies are increasingly shipping the same containers on water, highway and rail and shows there is a need for just one state department to deal with rules, regulations and oversight. Sounds very similar to DHS doesn’t it? For the sake of convenience on the part of the transportation industry we can certainly see answering to one agency rather than multiple layers of governmental bureaucracy is certainly noteworthy but, as we’ve clearly shown, Arkansas has demonstrated a lack of being capable of operating such a large bureaucratic agency effectively or efficiently. With that said we would think these politicians on this task force will proceed with that knowledge before any changes are made.

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