Under the leadership of Treasurer Ken Miller, business as usual in the treasurer’s office has come to mean finding ways to do more with less. On a daily basis, the office works to improve efficiency, reduce its footprint and maximize taxpayer dollars.
The following are highlights of the goals achieved since January 2011 that have reduced costs, increased output, and provided better services and information to the people of Oklahoma.
Budget and staffing
• While most state agencies annually ask the Legislature for a budget increase, and even though appropriations to the treasurer’s office were cut by 17% during the Great Recession, Treasurer Miller requested and received a 5% appropriations cut for FY-14. He has asked for an additional 5% reduction for FY-15.
• Efficiencies have been achieved through outsourcing non-core functions, consolidating staff and office space, and utilizing enhanced technology. The current staff, while significantly leaner than in years past, is achieving record levels of productivity for the office.
• From a high of 72 employees working in three locations under a previous administration, the treasurer’s staff is now 40 percent smaller and all employees are working in one location at the State Capitol Building.
• Office consolidation occurred in two phases: phase one increased usable workspace by 32 percent and addressed long-standing security concerns with the vault and teller window; phase two increased usable workspace by 85 percent within the treasury’s existing square footage.
• Consolidating all treasury operations into the Capitol building allowed for cross-utilization of employees and eliminated the need to pay for leased office space.
• Other cost-saving efficiencies have been accomplished through enhanced technology, which has streamlined banking functions.
• During Miller’s first two fiscal years, the unclaimed property division reunited Oklahomans with record high amounts -- $15.1 million in FY-12 and $16 million in FY-13.
• Borrowing business principles from the private sector, including performance pay and monthly productivity evaluations, the treasurer launched a pilot program in FY-14 to increase the amount of unclaimed property returned to Oklahomans and reduce the amount of time it takes to process claims. The program is clearly making a difference and is on track to shatter all previous records.
• The treasurer is making it easier for businesses to comply with the law on submission of unclaimed property by launching a web-based online portal for reporting.
• In his second month as state treasurer, Miller appointed a committee of financial experts to advise him on structure of the state’s investment portfolio and make recommendations to maximize investment returns. The panel meets monthly with the treasurer and his chief investment officer.
• To help maximize income while maintaining the security of state investments during this time of unprecedented low rates due to protracted accommodative policy set by the Federal Open Market Committee, the amount of money held on a daily basis in low-yield overnight investments has been reduced to a target amount of $400 million of the total $6 billion investment fund.
• To help keep the public informed about Oklahoma’s economy and state finances, Treasurer Miller launched a monthly online newsletter – the Oklahoma Economic Report – in March 2011. Monthly readership has topped 30,000.
• To provide objective analysis of Oklahoma’s economy, in March 2011 Treasurer Miller began monthly reporting on total revenue collections to the state. The monthly gross receipts to the treasury reports complement monthly reports on allocations to the General Revenue Fund, which receives between 32 and 57 percent of total monthly collections.
• The “Oklahoma Treasury Online Checkbook,” launched by Treasurer Miller in February 2013, provides taxpayers with a quick and easy way to examine how and where state funds are spent. The service, voluntarily provided by Treasurer Miller, provides detail on expenditures and receipts to state government and adds another layer of transparency and accountability to the state’s finances.
Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan
• Assets in the Oklahoma College Savings Plan have increased by 40% during Treasurer Miller’s service as chairman of the plan’s board of trustees. The number of accounts has also continued to grow.
• Since the program’s start, the direct-sold plan has provided more than $200 million for higher education expenses for Oklahoma families. That amount grows by more than $500,000 each week.
• The advisor-sold OklahomaDream 529 plan has increased its accounts by 163%, and its funds have grown by 189%.
Leadership and efficiencies
• Under Treasurer Miller, the Oklahoma Treasury now has a formal leadership position among the nation’s state treasurers. Treasurer Miller has been elected and re-elected by his peers to the National Association of State Treasurers Executive Committee and Foundation Board of Directors. In January 2014, he was elected chairman of the foundation board.
• Using money saved from numerous modernization and efficiency projects, the treasury was able to fund a $2 million upgrade in financial software, replacing grossly outdated COBOL computer systems. This was accomplished with no additional appropriations from the Legislature.
• Working with the Legislature, the treasury implemented electronic solutions that are increasing efficiency and saving taxpayer dollars.
• The office was awarded Commendations of Excellence from Governor Mary Fallin for three projects -- Workspace Consolidation, Remote Deposit Capture, and the Oklahoma Treasury Online Checkbook -- during the 2013 Quality Oklahoma Team Day.