“The (Policy) Foundation’s establishment of the Arkansas Efficiency Project in 2015 … was instrumental in beginning the movement … My administration’s Office of Transformation and the state’s Transformation Advisory Board are products of the project and strive to apply efficiency initiatives recommended by the report, as well as organize the state’s plan of action for transformation.” Gov. Asa Hutchinson, January 16, 2019


(September 2019) Fort Smith accountant Mike Carroll has played an important role in Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s plan to reorganize Arkansas state government.  Mr. Carroll chaired the Transformation Advisory Board, a 15-member citizens panel that made policy recommendations to the Hutchinson administration. 


“Transformation is a key priority of mine,” Hutchinson said in announcing the Board in February 2017. “I will continue to maintain that focus as we look for better ways to run state government, reduce bureaucracy, and increase the level of savings to the state and taxpayer.”1  In May 2017, Mr. Carroll told media, “I think it will be really interesting to hear from the citizens of Arkansas as to things that they would like to see improved, things that they think can be improved, and their ideas to do that.”2  The Board’s work, which ended in late 2018, served as the foundation for the reorganization plan enacted this year.


The Policy Foundation recently interviewed Mr. Carroll, a 1977 graduate of Ouachita Baptist University about efforts to transform Arkansas state government by making it more efficient.


Policy Foundation: How did your background as an accountant inform your public service as Chairman of the Transformation Advisory Board?


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: I have been assisting business executives solve problems in their organizations for over 40 years.  So, when Governor Hutchinson asked me to participate in this important project, I saw it as no different than I have been doing throughout my career.  In addition, passionate involvement in the communities in which our offices are located is an important element of our firm culture.  It is just one way that our members give back to the communities that have been so kind to our firm over the years.


Policy Foundation: How important is accounting to the reorganization’s future success?


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: Governor Hutchinson made it clear from the very beginning that the goals of his transformation initiative are multifaceted:  1) to improve services to Arkansans…not reduce…but, to improve; 2) improve management efficiency; and, 3) save tax dollars by reducing the cost required to run state government.  The transformation legislation requires that periodic information be made available reporting the progress of the transformation initiative. The ability to capture the information representing improvements in taxpayer service as well as quantify the savings achieved through the reorganization will be extremely important to demonstrate the success  of Governor Hutchinson’s Transformation Initiative.


Policy Foundation: More than half of the Board members were citizen-volunteers from the private sector.  What does that say about citizens’ ability to make a difference in Arkansas?


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: Governor Hutchinson was very intentional in selecting the members of the Transformation Advisory Board to assist Chief Transformation Officer, Amy Fecher.  He assembled a group of people with diverse backgrounds…some with extensive knowledge of Arkansas state government as employees of state agencies or legislators……others with limited knowledge of state government, but, significant experience in business…plus a couple of members from the field of education.  This diversity of backgrounds allowed for robust discussion as we worked thru the various components of Governor Hutchinson’s transformation plans.  It was very humbling and gratifying to work with such a talented, committed and passionate team on the transformation initiative. (Editor’s Note: Policy Foundation Chairman George Dunklin, Jr., was an Advisory Board member).  


Policy Foundation: What should taxpayers expect from the Board’s work and state government reorganization?

Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: Arkansans should expect to see the achievement of the goals that Governor Hutchinson laid out at the beginning of the process.  Improved taxpayer services provided in a more efficient way that will result in a reduction in the cost to run the business of Arkansas state government.  I hope that Arkansans will not be satisfied unless these goals are achieved.


Policy Foundation: The reorganization establishes a new Department of Transformation and Shared Services.  Why is this agency important to efficiency in government? 


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: For transformation to be effective,  it must become a part of the DNA of Arkansas state government.  This isn’t a “one and done” program. Transformation must always be in the thought process of state government.  The Department of Transformation and Shared Services is critical.  It elevates transformation to a cabinet level position so that it will always be a point of focus as the cabinet secretaries meet with the Governor for discussion and implementation of strategic initiatives.  From the perspective of Shared Services, this will result in a streamlined structure to provide the services that are required by all departments of the state (such as human resources and information technology).  The result will be that the services will be provided in a more consistent, uniform, effective and efficient way.  It will also be scalable.  This is a model that successful businesses in Arkansas utilize.  It certainly will be beneficial for our state government as well.  This is an area of incredible opportunity in the transformation initiative as these “back office” operations are consolidated into a comprehensive department that will oversee the services for all state agencies. 


Policy Foundation: Did the Board address the issue of reducing paperwork and/or regulations?


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: Embracing evolving technology has great opportunity to improve and streamline the delivery of services to Arkansans and will be a significant component of transformation.  Bringing the Department of Information Services into the Department of Transformation and Shared Services is indicative of the importance that improved technology plays in accomplishing effective transformation.


Policy Foundation: The last major reorganization in Arkansas occurred nearly 50 years ago. How will reorganization change Arkansas for our children and grandchildren in the next 50 years?


Mike Carroll, C.P.A.: Things have never been better in Arkansas than they are today.  Record low unemployment rates, record numbers of Arkansans employed, great improvement in the quality of life around the state.  As good as things are, there is still so much that needs to be done to position our state for a brighter future.  Six of my nine grandchildren are residents of the state of Arkansas ranging in age from 15 to 5.  My desire is that they will not need to leave Arkansas to pursue whatever opportunities God may have in their future.   Making our state government run more efficiently, both in providing services and from a cost perspective, will allow continued reductions in our state income tax structure.  This is a major component in continuing to  make our state an attractive home for future generations of Arkansans.


Thank you Mike Carroll.