When Governor Doug Burgum was elected, by a landslide, in 2016 he ran on a campaign of reinventing government. He has consistently argued for a reshaping of state government to make it more efficient and more responsive.
That sounds easier than it really is. Bureaucracies tend to get entrenched. Add in deeply human proclivities like territorialism and reform can get very hard very quickly.
But there may be an opportunity to create some efficiency by merging two state departments which work in the area of outdoor management and recreation.
HCR3045, introduced by state Rep. Rick Becker (R-Bismarck), would initiate a study into the possible benefits and drawbacks of merging the Game and Fish and Parks departments.
The resolution states that “the missions of the Game and Fish Department and Parks and Recreation Department are similarly and ultimately focused toward public enjoyment of the outdoors and conserving and enhancing the resources necessary for that enjoyment,” and “because of these similar focuses and the current programs and resources each department has aligned individually toward the accomplishment of similar and mutually supporting missions, great potential may exist to better benefit the people of this state by unifying the responsibilities and resources of the Game and Fish Department and the Parks and Recreation Department under a single game, fish, parks, and recreation department.”
That sure sounds good to me.
Again, Governor Burgum campaigned on the reinvention of government, and the public responded to it by giving him a lopsided victory at the ballot box. There is an appetite in North Dakota for this sort of thing.
At least among the public.
Perhaps less so in the halls of state government.
Keep in mind that this resolution merely calls for a study into whether or not such a merger might be desirable. Maybe it’s not. Maybe there are certain realities inherent to the jobs these departments do which preclude their merger. But that’s the point of the study.
This resolution passed the state House, narrowly, back in March. The resolution had a hearing before the Senate’s Government and Veterans Affairs Committee this morning.
I hope the Senate follows the House’s lead and authorizes a study into this proposal.
I don’t think we can say for certain that this specific proposal is what the public wants, but I think it is certain that a majority at least want the tires kicked.