We should always seek ways to reduce the size of government and the role it plays in the lives of taxpayers. The vital services taxpayers choose to delegate to government must be performed responsibly, with professionalism, a focus on service, and a firm commitment to the consistent rule of law. When employees appreciate the core mission, embrace excellence and are able to perform their duties knowing that they have the support of and are accountable to integrity-based leadership, much can be accomplished.
Plan of Action
I will immediately lead a strategic planning process aimed at improving employee morale, administrative efficiency, and service to the taxpayer. The development team will include current employees, consumer and regulated stakeholders. With broad-based input, we can set benchmarks and thereby chart a measurable path to exceptional service in the future.
I will initiate a thorough review of all laws impacting the operation of the department. Upon completion, I will ask the legislature to work with me to modernize and streamline our operations to reflect the new strategic plan. I will publish our budget online so that taxpayers can monitor the monthly financial statements of their Department of Agriculture.
One of the primary goals of a regulatory agency is the willful compliance of regulated entities. I believe enforcement actions should always be consistently applied with wisdom and understanding. Maximum fines should not always be levied, nor should the minimum be the usual settlement. Examples of pet store owners with multiple dozens of citations indicate a nimble will or a weak law. I will take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that we improve taxpayer confidence in this fundamental responsibility.
I will work to improve public access to regulatory scorecards. Department of Agriculture employees inspect food sales establishments, warehouses, processing plants, fuel pumps, pest control applications and a wide range of other areas that touch every consumer and many agriculturally-oriented businesses. I will make sure that use-friendly online resources and live customer service representatives will assist providing prompt, accurate answers to taxpayer questions.
Proper training and certification for employees and the proficient use of information technology is a must in the 21st century. I believe inspectors of regulated industries that require certain training or licensing for their employees should be required at a minimum to hold the basic certification or license of the business they inspect. It's a policy that just makes sense.
It's time to do it the right way... Safe Food, Strong Farms and a Responsible Government. I am very interested in hearing from you. After reading my Plan of Action, please send me an email, send me a message on facebook, or call the campaign to offer your suggestions and additional comments. We'll start here, but we still have much to do on issues ranging from companion animals, water resource management and biofuel development, just to name a few. Your input is vital and will always be respected.