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Government needs more business-minded public servants, governor says

by Ed Cohen

December 1, 2011

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His administration has cut the number of state employees by 21 percent, while reducing the average wait time at the Bureau of Motor Vehicles to eight minutes, making it one of best in the country, according to a trade association.

But Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said his state needs to “somehow ramp up the rate at which new businesses … form and at least occasionally succeed and blossom” to reach its full potential.

Daniels was talking to students and community members attending the Entrepreneurial Insights class and lecture series at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business on Nov. 15. 2011.

The second-term Republican described the many ways his administration has tried to make state government operate more like a business and make Indiana’s economic landscape increasingly attractive to outside investors and businesses.  But he insisted that new, homegrown businesses are the key to economic vitality going forward because they’re the source of the most “net new jobs.”

Daniels titled his talk “Making Government More Entrepreneurial” and said, “It’s not an oxymoron, governmental entrepreneurism can actually occur.” He said a pay-for-performance management philosophy has led to greater efficiency.

“We may have 21 percent fewer employees than there used to be, but I can prove to you that service levels are higher,” he said. “The BMV … child protection, corrections – I could name 20 more departments, many of which have many gone from worst to first or near-best in class.”

In 2010, for the second time in three years, the Indiana BMV received the International Customer Service Award of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators for superior customer service. In announcing the award, Daniels praised BMV employees for reducing the average wait time at license branches from 12 minutes, 15 seconds in 2007 to 8 minutes, 10 seconds in 2010, even as new license and ID regulations were taking effect that required more paperwork.

Daniels told the Notre Dame entrepreneurship students that he hopes some of them will devote part of their careers to public service.

“Because the very same spirit that animates our best (private) enterprises is sorely lacking in the public enterprise, which must be done well if the private realm – to me, the important realm in life – is to flourish.”

Entrepreneurial Insights is a fall lecture series and course of Notre Dame’s Gigot Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. It features entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and business leaders who offer their experience and advice in areas critical to the creation of new ventures, the ongoing viability of existing business, economic growth, and the betterment of society. For more information about the series or the Gigot Center visit http://business.nd.edu/gigot_center/