When a light bulb burns out, when the snow piles up, or when the grass grows at the Capitol, it is workers in the Department of Administration who take care of it. But the department’s 500 employees do much more than keep state buildings clean, safe and functioning.
They’re on the cutting edge of making sure taxpayers get their money’s worth. They help smaller state agencies run effectively by centralizing “back office” work such as human resources, payroll, budgeting, and paying bills.
They run a nationally recognized initiative that arranges more than $2.1 billion in centralized purchasing. That program, known as “strategic sourcing,” helps taxpayers get the best value, commissioner Spencer Cronk says.
Part of the value comes from buying in bulk and maximizing negotiating power, he says. But part of the value also comes from practices that are not so obvious, such as standardizing technology. Limiting how many types of computers, cell phones and software that people use delivers efficiencies that don’t necessarily show up on the bottom line, he says.
The Department of Administration also arranges the purchase and lease of 8,000 vehicles a year – not only for the state, but also for university campuses and many local units of government.
The department maintains 4.4 million square feet of space in buildings the state owns, It oversees leases for 3.6 million square feet that the state rents. Workers make sure remodeling and construction projects in state buildings go to the contractors who provide the best overall deal.
The department is also home to the state’s official mapping and demographic databases, which are a priceless resource for the public and business sectors. Here’s a look at a few of the members of Local 3139 who make Minnesota’s “behind the scenes” operations more effective.