Alabama State Government Reorganization


By executive order on January 25, 2011, Governor Robert Bentley created the Alabama Commission on Improving State Government and assigned it the responsibility to “analyze, ascertain and explore ways to reduce government waste and spending with minimal or no reduction in services to citizens by evaluating the merits of privatizing services, streamlining processes, creating public-private partnerships, and other means to reduce government expenditures.” A preliminary report by the Commission is due on June 1, 2011. Citizens and public employees are invited to submit suggestions at the Commission’s web site.


Governor Bentley appointed Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey to chair the Commission. The additional 22 members of the Commission include constitutional officers, Executive Department officials, a retired Air Force general, and business leaders from throughout the state. The directors of three public-policy organizations serve as ex officio members. Lt. Governor Ivey stated that the Commission’s first task will be to “review previous studies before undertaking others.” Additional information may be found on the website, www.improve.alabama.gov


Records and reports of previous government reorganization efforts in Alabama are provided here for the benefit of the Commission and the public. Full copies of all reports and, in most cases, supporting documentation and related records can be accessed at the Research Room of the Department of Archives and History. See http://www.archives.alabama.gov/research.html for hours and information on visiting.


Except where noted, the documents provided as PDF files are from the collections of the Department of Archives and History. Adobe Reader is required to open the files.


1918 Russell Sage Foundation Study

During World War I, an alarming number of Alabama’s young men were found to be unhealthy or illiterate when they reported for military service. The war also posed significant challenges to Alabama’s ability to deliver adequate social services for disabled veterans, orphans, and the indigent. As a result, Governor Charles Henderson asked the Russell Sage Foundation of New York to undertake a study of the state’s mobilization for war and the related strain on government agencies. Recommendations presented by the Sage Foundation include increased funding for existing education and health programs, the creation of new programs for underserved populations, and the promotion of fundraising for private charitable efforts. (Digitization by Google Books)


1922 Russell Sage Foundation Study

Four years later, Governor Thomas Kilby asked the Sage Foundation to revisit the agencies studied in 1918 and to report on the state’s progress. The 1922 report documents the improvement of state services to children, better public and mental health, and better treatment of prisoners. (Digitization by Google Books)


1932 Brookings Institution Report

The most significant study of Alabama government undertaken to date came in response to the fiscal crisis posed by the Great Depression. Upon entering office in January 1931, Governor Benjamin Meek Miller requested and received a legislative appropriation to commission an exhaustive review of state government’s financial operations and condition, county governments and their relationship to the state, and taxation systems at the state and local levels. In June 1932, the Brookings Institution delivered a five-volume report. The PDF provided here contains the table of contents for the full report and an executive summary. 


In 1939, Governor Frank Dixon undertook implementation of some of the Brookings report’s recommendations through the work of a reorganization task force. In the only major reorganization of state government in the twentieth century, legislation consolidated scores of small agencies and commissions into agencies that remain in place today: Finance, Industrial Relations, Conservation, the State Docks, Corrections, Pardons and Paroles, and Personnel.


1942 Martin Study

After playing a key role in the proposal and implementation of reorganization during the Dixon administration, political scientist Roscoe C. Martin authored this extensive study of changes in Alabama government from statehood to 1938. The PDF provided here contains the table of contents and conclusion.


In 1940, Martin also published an article detailing Governor Dixon’s strategy for campaigning on the issue of government efficiency and his organization of a task force while still a candidate. It offers an illuminating insider’s account of the reorganization effort. Due to copyright restrictions, the article cannot be reproduced here, but it is available for purchase from Cambridge Journals Online.


1950 Legislative Reference Service Study

At the request of the Legislative Council, in April 1950 the Legislative Reference Service (LRS) prepared an analysis of the executive branch and recommendations for improvement. The document notes extensively the recommendations of the Brookings report that had not been implemented.


1972 Governor’s Cost Control Survey

In November 1971, Governor George C. Wallace created the Governor’s Cost Control Survey by executive order and charged it with developing recommendations to improve government efficiency in the provision of services. Forty-seven executives from the private sector comprised the task force, which organized as a nonprofit corporation and retained Warren King and Associates as consultants.


The Survey’s September 1972 report contains brief profiles of executive agencies and specific recommendations for improved efficiency. Functional assessments and recommendations propose the consolidation of areas such as printing and publications, fleet management, data processing, space management, food services, and telecommunications. The report concludes with recommendations for reorganizing the executive branch under five major units that would report to the governor.


1976 Cost Control Implementation Report

A follow-up assessment found that a majority of the 1972 recommendations requiring executive action had been implemented, and one-fourth of those requiring legislative action had been achieved.  Details of the net annual and one-time savings are provided.


1977 Governor’s Committee on State Government Reorganization

Following the Cost Control Survey’s recommendations for reorganization, Governor Wallace issued an executive order in 1975 to create the Governor’s Committee on State Government Reorganization for further study.  Chaired by the governor, the Committee’s membership included executive and legislative officials as well as representatives of the private sector.


The Committee’s March 1977 report recommended the restructuring of government into a smaller number of executive departments headed by appointed secretaries. The primary recommendation includes nine departments, and an alternative design calls for sixteen. The document also proposes a process for phased implementation over two years.


1978 Alabama Reorganization

Developed in the context of reorganization efforts pursued by the Wallace administration in the 1970s, this study published by the Office of Public Service and Research at Auburn University provides a useful summary of preceding reorganization efforts beginning with the Brookings report.  It also reviews options for organizational design and transition management. A case study applies these principles to Alabama government’s role in regulating businesses.


1988 Alabama Management Improvement Program

Created by executive order in March 1987 by Governor Guy Hunt, the Alabama Management Improvement Program sought to identify opportunities for cost savings, to expose government program managers to private-sector methods, to improve effectiveness while enhancing efficiency, and to seek stakeholder support for implementation.


A board comprised of business and industry leaders directed 25 co-consulting teams with 150 state employees and 75 business executives in their membership. A series of short-term studies produced 1,054 recommendations for implementation at the department level.


Long-term studies identified seven major functional areas requiring comprehensive action: education, personnel, mental health, state fees, information systems, capital planning and budgeting, and law enforcement.


2004 Commission on Efficiency, Consolidation, and Funding




Full Report

In the face of a massive projected shortfall in the General Fund, Governor Bob Riley issued an executive order  in October 2003 to create the Commission on Efficiency, Consolidation, and Funding. The Commission was to recommend “legislation and other actions to increase accountability and efficiency in government, to consolidate and reorganize state government, to explore alternative financing mechanisms, and to shift non-essential services out of state government.”


Thirty-eight appointed commissioners worked with state officials, government agency staff, and an academic center on public administration to produce short-term and long-term recommendations for five functional areas: government operations and accountability; environment and natural resources; public safety; health and human services; and commerce.



Updated: December 13, 2012