It's a small example of government savings but it's the lesson that the conservatives in Jefferson City have been promoting for years.
A new audit released Wednesday shows that the state could save substantial money by coordinating purchases of big trucks and heavy equipment. Now that audit announcement isn't necessarily something that would grab your attention. But step-by-step, an analysis of state spending will continue to uncover examples of potential savings.
Last year, the Transportation, Conservation and Natural Resources departments spend a combined $31 million on heavy equipment, primarily big trucks for the Transportation Department. About one-third of that amount was for virtually identical items and yet the three departments had no policy of coordinating their purchases. Auditors said they weren't sure of the amount but that the state could have saved a bundle by combining their purchases.
If state agencies would work together on these major purchases, millions of tax dollars could be saved. And that's what conservatives mean when they discuss government waste. It's not a finger-pointing charge of fraud but rather increased communication and coordination to save money where we can.
Year after year, there are those who advocate raising taxes in Missouri. And though additional revenue is sometimes essential, we miss the boat all too often by not first examining the practices of state government spending.
Here's another example. The audit found that tractors within the Department of Transportation were being under-utilized. So the audit motivated the Transportation officials to eliminate 209 tractors from state service. Little by little, those dollars add up. And they help to delay or postpone the day when additional taxes are needed.
Here's one final footnote to the audit. The Department of Conservation needed a piece of large equipment but first they decided to purchase the item through the Department of Transportation which had a much larger history of large equipment buying. That move saved $21,000 on the price of one piece of equipment. Multiply that change by a thousand times or so and you begin to see the potential for savings that is available in state government.