Wisconsin's state government has saved millions of dollars so far in 2012 following cutbacks in overtime pay and cracking down on food assistance "fraud," according to a new report.
In a press release Tuesday, Gov. Scott Walker touted these savings detailed in a state task force report, and he cited the state's commitment to "reducing waste," putting the issue in financial terms.
"We are continuously looking for ways to reduce waste in government," Walker said. "Suggestions from state employees and citizens are a huge help, they help taxpayers get a better return on their investment from the state. Every dollar saved we can invest back into our local communities or return to taxpayers."
The report reviews a move by Walker last fall to centralize fraud investigation efforts in the Department of Health Services, namely with regard to the FoodShare public assistance program.
According to the report, fraud investigations of that program's participants by the new Office of the Inspector General led to nearly $2.7 million in "cost avoidance" and over $1.7 million in recouped payments between March and June 2012.
Over that period, 1,482 investigations were completed, and 49 people were suspended from the program.
The report also detailed efforts to cut down on overtime costs within 24-hour state institutions, namely the Department of Corrections and the Division of Community Corrections.
Following the elimination of collective bargaining rights, the report says, the DCC saw overtime costs decrease by 89.5 percent.
Compared to last year, the DOC saw a $2.1 million savings during the first quarter of 2012, and another $636,000 in May 2012 compared to the same month last year, in just one division.
Going paperless, the "Lean" government initiative and reducing "unnecessary reporting requirements" for businesses were also discussed in the report, which was produced by the Waste, Fraud, and Abuse Elimination Task Force.
This report is part of a new system through which citizens and state employees can suggest cost-saving strategies through the state's Best Practices website. The task force then suggests how strategies could be implemented.