After establishing the Government Modernization and Efficiency Team on his first day in office via executive order, Gov. Phil Scott announced the names of the 12 members in late January.
The dozen includes Adam Alpert, owner of BioTek and a Milton resident.
The team was assembled with the aim to streamline state government processes, including department and agency efficiency audits, IT planning, a Vermont-focused digital strategy and increased operational efficiency, according to a press release.
Alpert said his mission is to provide input on the governor’s plans.
To supplement the GMET, Scott also created the Program to Improve Vermont Outcomes Together, or PIVOT, which will implement and track GMET’s progress and recommendations.
PIVOT’s program and process evaluations were underway statewide as of January 27, according to the press release.
Although both teams will operate at the state level, Milton town manager Donna Barlow Casey said unburdening state agency and program processes could benefit town governments, as well.
“There is a great opportunity for the streamlining and creation of state level to filter down to good things for local communities,” she said, noting technology should be a priority.
Barlow Casey also lauded the governor’s decision to choose people with extensive business knowledge to critique governmental processes.
“This is what [Alpert] does every day is business,” Barlow Casey said. “With that mindset there at the table, I think they stand an excellent chance of coming up with some creative ideas.”
Although GMET is still in the early stages of developing those ideas and projects, finding cost savings in Medicaid and cutting bridge and road project overhead costs will be the focus of specific initiatives, the release states.
Scott prioritized GMET’s formation early in his term to make good on campaign promises, according to his communications director Rebecca Kelley.
“He committed to that as a day-one action and followed through on that commitment,” she said. “It was important to start in that right away because it contributes to more sustainable budgeting.”
GMET will report its findings quarterly, according to the press release, and it is scheduled to meet March 21.
During that meeting, Alpert said the team, which was already charged with strategic budgeting duties, will begin to develop guidance and critiques.
Alpert said members will focus on three strategic objectives laid out by Scott: making Vermont more affordable, growing the economy and protecting the most vulnerable systems.
Though the team was tasked with reviewing state agencies, it functions solely as an advisory tool for the governor and executive branch, Alpert noted.
“We really have no official capacity or power,” he said.
In that same vein, the team’s objectives, unlike most committees and agencies, will be long-term and ongoing, Alpert said, and will concentrate on incremental change.
“Given the right strategies, tactics and management there will be improvement. But it wont be overnight,” Alpert said.
As the team preps for its late-March meeting, GMET is also expecting to tackle an adjustment period in terms of bringing its own members up to speed on new or unfamiliar strategies.
“There’s a skillset associated with strategic budgeting,” Alpert said. “People have to be trained in how to do this and come up to speed with the tools.”
Members are also anticipating an adjustment period as agencies break from old routines and establish more efficient processes.
“There’s a general acknowledgement that in many cases, the way we’ve been doing things isn’t optimal. We’ve been doing it this way forever,” Alpert said. “It’s easy to continue with the familiar.”