Gov. Daugaard announces initiative to improve SD governmentGov. Dennis Daugaard on Monday announced a “Better Government” state initiative designed to cut red tape, make state government more open and bolster e-government.
By: Staff reports, The Daily Republic
Gov. Dennis Daugaard on Monday announced a “Better Government” state initiative designed to cut red tape, make state government more open and bolster e-government.
“My goal is to create a culture in state government that is centered around the citizens, the voters, the taxpayers we serve,” Daugaard said. “By constantly striving to cut red tape, to be more open and to put more online, we are creating a state government that is a better steward of tax dollars and a better servant of our people.”
The Monday news release from Daugaard’s office said the initiative was implemented shortly after Daugaard took office in January.
“I believe that a big part of my responsibility as governor is to see to it that South Dakota state government is operated in the best fashion possible,” Gov. Daugaard said. “In short, I want to make sure that government works for the people of South Dakota.”
Early achievements of the initiative, according to the news release, have included the identification of hundreds of sections of state regulations that can be repealed; releasing invitation lists of governor’s events; opening the Governor’s Mansion to the public; and transitioning to full online interaction for several state licenses, processes and programs.
South Dakota Democrats welcomed the announcement but called Daugaard’s moves toward openness an “about face,” as compared to previous attitudes.
Daugaard is reversing his opposition to longstanding Democratic ideas about more transparent in government, said Ben Nesselhuf, chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party.
In a news release, Nesselhuf said Daugaard’s staff opposed the same open government legislation sponsored by Democrats during the 2010 legislative session that Republicans are now trumpeting in their “Better Government” initiative, and cited the following examples:
* HB 1181, sponsored by Rep. Mitch Fargen, D-Flandreau, would have required Daugaard to release the names of guests at the Valhalla State Lodge. Daugaard Chief of Staff Dusty Johnson gave the only testimony in opposition to the bill.
* HB 1202, sponsored by Rep. Bernie Hunhoff , D-Yankton, would have created an economic database to track taxpayer dollars spent on economic development. Mark Youngberg from Daugaard’s office gave the only testimony in opposition to the bill, the Democrats said.
“While we applaud the Governor’s new office policy, office policies can change,” Nesselhuf said.
“We hope Gov. Daugaard will work with Democrats to make open government the law of the land, rather than an internal rule subject to change.”
The public is invited to track the program’s progress at http://sd.gov/bettergovernment.
The website notes the following accomplishments of the Better Government initiative so far:
* Identifying 386 sections of state law that can be repealed and more than 43,000 words of regulatory language that are not needed.
* Announcing that the invitation lists for the Governor’s Golf Classic, the Governor’s Pheasant Hunt and the Governor’s Buffalo Roundup will be released each year, omitting only the names of business prospects.
* Opening Valhalla — former Gov. Peter Norbeck’s cabin in Custer State Park — for regular public tours, and making public the list of those who stay at the cabin.
* Opening the Governor’s Mansion for regular public tours for the first time.
* Improving the Open.SD.gov website to include even more state financial information and make it easier to search for state contract details and information on state employees’ salaries.
* Providing more detailed information online from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.
* Using social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to broaden public communication.
* Making it easier for private citizens and businesses to connect with state government and be better served by improving online interaction for such things as business license applications, tax returns, and license plate renewals.