| August 29, 2011

This week in government waste

Earlier this week at CapitolBeatOK, Patrick McGuigan reported that 2,605 people in Oklahoma’s state government are earning six-figure salaries. Of that number, 2,086 are in the higher education system.

Citizens are encouraged to examine the data for themselves, but my favorite example is the chancellor of the state’s higher education system, a former state legislator now earning more than $32,000 per month.

“This data reminds me of another episode of ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous,’ except that this time it’s on the taxpayer’s dime,” remarked Stuart Jolly, Oklahoma state director of Americans for Prosperity. “The bulging salaries and days of ‘champagne wishes and caviar dreams’ must end.”

As startling as this salary information is, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise. As Vance Fried, the Riata Professor of Entrepreneurship at Oklahoma State University, has observed: “In the late twentieth century, organization scholars like Oliver Williamson and Michael Jensen found that a large amount of excess resources (organizational slack) leads to low productivity in any type of organization. That excess reduced internal discipline. Money gets spent without good justification, managers feather their nests at the organization’s expense, and weak-performing employees are tolerated.”

Oklahoma voters can sense the organizational slack. Here’s hoping state legislators will do something about it.

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