A soon-to-be released report on efficiency in government says $40 million to $60 million can be saved by reforming four state agencies, officials say.
But the study, done by about 40 businessmen and professionals - many of them retired and all appointed by Gov. Norm Bangerter - already has become more of a political issue than a tool for government.The report examines the University of Utah, the state Health Department, the state's computer system and Granite School District.
Some of the recommendations apparently say university teachers should spend more time teaching and less time researching, according to sources close to the committee.
Bangerter plans to release details of the recommendations later this month. But the study already is generating controversy.
Although Bangerter organized the committee, supporters of independent gubernatorial candidate Merrill Cook and the three tax-limitation initiatives on the ballot are rejoicing over the report, claiming it bolsters their argument that government is full of waste.
Meanwhile, Bangerter already has said he thinks some of the recommendations go too far.
And, while none of the committee memers contacted would reveal specifics of the report, some said they, too, worry it will inadvertently help the tax-limitation campaign. Many committee members are Bangerter supporters, and some committee members dropped out during the study because of disagreements.
"I was worried about that (helping the tax-initiatives)," said one member, who asked not be identified. "I didn't want to help the rollback situation."
However, he said he thinks the report will not hurt Bangerter.
If passed, the tax initiatives would reduce state income and property taxes and provide tax credits to parents whose children attend private schools. State officials say all three initiatives would cut a combined $329 million from tax revenues.
Officials said the $40 million to $60 million savings recommended in the report is only an estimate. Some of the recommendations contain specific dollar amounts while others were more difficult to evaluate.
Cook already has tried to profit politically from the report, accusing Bangerter of withholding it to minimize damage to his re-election campaign.
But committee members, even those who do not support Bangerter, said the governor has yet to receive a final copy of the report. Draft copies have been distributed to the four agencies that were studied. Directors of those agencies are preparing responses, officials said.
Bangerter formed the committee in November after several businessmen approached him and said they wanted to help state government, said Colleen Colton, one of Bangerter's administrative assistants.
The committee raised $10,000 for the study by soliciting donations from businesses.
Bangerter chose people from a variety of backgrounds and from both major political parties for the committee. The group's name - The Governor's Committee for Cost-Effective Government - was chosen carefully to avoid the notion that government can be helped simply by reducing budgets, officials said.