Rauner issues executive orders banning nepotism in state hires, eliminating 53 inactive state boards

Rauner issues executive orders banning nepotism in state hires, eliminating 53 inactive state boards

The governor issued a pair of executive orders aimed at improving ethics and efficiency in state government.

Issuing a pair of executive orders on Sept. 21, Gov. Bruce Rauner implemented a series of reforms that include a ban on nepotistic hires at state agencies and the dissolution of 53 inactive state entities, such as commission boards, councils and task forces.

Prior to these latest reforms, Illinois had been among the half of U.S. states without explicit prohibitions against nepotistic hiring in state government, according to the governor’s office. The Land of Lincoln now joins the other half of states banning “the appointment, promotion or recommendation” of any state employee’s relative to any department under their control.

The 53 vacant entities eliminated stood among 600 similar government bodies, according to a statement released by the governor’s office, but had managed to long outlive their public purpose. Many of the idle authorities, however, had continued to appear in “state publications, public-facing websites, and Legislative Research Unit reports,” as if continuing to perform a public service.

The Illinois Board of Athletic Trainers, for example, hasn’t convened for a meeting since 2008; and there is no recorded activity of the State Government Accountability Council past 1999 – the year it was founded, according to the governor’s office.

This action comes following a similar order the governor issued March 30 that eliminated nearly 20 inactive commissions and task forces.

Illinoisans should welcome these commonsense reforms. But more importantly, state lawmakers should aim to boost fairness and efficiency in other areas of government.

Beyond dissolving inactive government commissions and task forces, lawmakers should give taxpayers the option to consolidate duplicative and wasteful active government units as well. Illinois is coated in nearly 7,000 layers of local government – more than any other state in the nation – despite serving a shrinking population. Consolidation of unnecessary government units would be a worthwhile first step toward delivering property tax relief to overtaxed Illinoisans.

Moreover, local governments would be wise to take a note from the governor’s uprooting of nepotism. The relative obscurity of some government units – and townships in particular – have allowed nepotism and patronage to make victims of taxpayers across the state.

But reforms such as these do not have to be enacted by executive action. Taxpayers should remind lawmakers – when they reconvene next session – which direction state government should proceed.

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