Governor Gregoire, faced with the daunting task of closing a massive state deficit, has submitted proposals to reduce the number of state agencies from 21 to 9 agencies. The consolidation plan is expected to save $30 million while reducing the number of state positions by 125 over the next biennium. The Governor and the state legislator will have to balance a $4.6 billion shortfall; this consolidation of state agencies is one small step in the direction of reducing government spending.
Gregoire proposes consolidating the state’s Human Rights Commission, Offices of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprise, Commission of African American Affairs, Commission on Hispanic Affairs, and Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs into a single “Office of Civil Rights,” a new agency that will continue its work in protecting services provided to the state’s diverse communities and promoting opportunities for the state’s minority and disadvantaged businesses. The new consolidated agency will eliminate redundant administrative overhead and duplicative expenses. Of particular note to construction contractors is that under the Governor’s proposal, many of the OMWBE’s functions, particularly the certification of state minority and women business enterprises and the federal disadvantaged business enterprise program will be handled by a Business Certification and Assistance Division within the new Office of Civil Rights.