Over CRC’s 100 year history, it has made an outsized impact for such a small organization. This is the fourth in a series of blog posts highlighting CRC’s top projects and reports since its inception in 1916.
The Citizens Research Council of Michigan has a long history of promoting efficiency and effectiveness in state government. In this budget season, it may be difficult to fathom an era where state government did not have a budget, nor a budget process. But as of 1919, this was the case in Michigan. That year, Governor Albert Sleeper, with the help of the Detroit Bureau of Governmental Research (which would later be named the Citizens Research Council of Michigan), proposed legislation for a state budget process that was passed by the legislature.
The Detroit Bureau continued to study and promote an efficient and effective state government. In 1921, it issued Analysis of Michigan’s State Government Organization, the first of what would be many studies on the organization of state agencies. This report focused on the “scattered responsibility and diffused authority” of state programs and made many recommendations including putting all state agencies having to do with the same general problem or function in departments responsible to the governor, giving the governor the authority to appoint and dismiss all administrative officers, providing for an independent, elected state auditor, and providing for a single budget commissioner.
In 1921, the state began a reorganization process following the Bureau’s recommendations and in March 1927, the Bureau was able to report “good progress” in reorganization, but noted that there were still too many elected state officials, which could be remedied only by a constitutional change.
Over its history, the Citizens Research Council has stood by the principle that effective provision of public services depends on efficient, accountable organization characterized by responsibility focused in a single executive and a minimum of overlap and duplication in the organization chart of the governmental unit. CRC raised these issues over and over, from its first analysis of county organization in 1921, to the Little Hoover studies in 1950-1952, to its local administrative surveys in the 1960s, to its organization plan for Wayne County as a charter unit. Virtually every year found the Council producing analyses of the state budget or the budgets of Detroit and Wayne County. Consistently, the goal was that of assuring long-term balance in budgets and accountability in public taxing and spending.