Roads, aeronautics merger is a good start

Friday, June 30, 2017

Don’t expect sweeping changes or a big tax dividend from today’s unveiling of the newly created Nebraska Department of Transportation.

But it’s not unreasonable to expect long-term results in the form of increased efficiency that will translate into lower costs over the long run.

Nebraska is late in the game when it comes to this particular department, placing the Department of Aeronautics (and its director) under the Department of Roads now renamed as the Department of Transportation. Waterways, under the DOT umbrella in most states, are technically under Game and Parks control, but other than the Missouri, under federal control, are not useful for transportation.

Gov. Ricketts says the merger will leave more money for runways and roads, as well as investing in 21st-century infrastructure.

NDOT Director Kyle Schneweis says the merger reflects the state’s “commitment to more efficient and effective, customer service focused government.”

It’s wasn’t the first; the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services has been undergoing consolidation of services while anticipating sweeping changes in federal funding.

And it shouldn’t be the last.

Rural Nebraskans are justified in being concerned about state services, which tend to gravitate toward population centers in the east, especially when budgets are tight.

But there are myriad examples of governmental agencies at all levels that could be combined and consolidated while still delivering needed services to sparsely populated regions of the state.

One only has to look to the private sector to see how modern technology can speed and streamline interaction with “customers.”

The state is taking the NDOT roll out slowly, changing logos and signage gradually at low cost and with little fanfare.

It won’t transform state government efficiency overnight, but it’s a good start.

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