- Associated Press - Friday, September 18, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A panel of Kansas lawmakers is seeking a consulting firm to conduct an “efficiency study” through which it can identify significant saving opportunities in the state budget.

The Legislative Budget Committee started interviewing firms on Thursday and is expected to make a selection on Friday. The committee is considering pitches from four consultants and is holding each session behind closed doors.

Republican state Rep. Ron Ryckman Jr. of Olathe says the committee wants to be “as open as possible,” but the closed sessions are necessary in order to protect “trade secrets.”

Budget director Shawn Sullivan said it will be difficult for the firms to come up with new budget cut ideas that haven’t already been considered in Kansas, but he’s hopeful that the process will be productive.

In this year’s state budget, lawmakers earmarked $3 million for a contract with a firm, which will perform an efficiency study on the state government and recommend ways the state can more efficiently spend its money.

“A couple of these firms do this in a number of states, and they have a database of other recommendations they’ve made, so that would certainly be helpful,” Sullivan said. “My belief is that the low-hanging fruit is gone, so these vendors will need to take a deep dive into agencies and the structure of our budget. I’m always open to having other people come in and help us be more efficient and more effective.”

Sullivan hopes the firms will be able to come up with solid recommendations, but the decision ultimately might come down to the company with recommendations that lawmakers are able to enact.

“As I’ve looked at other states, they have identified savings,” he said. “The question is, from those identified savings, what are we willing to implement; is there a political component to that or not.”

The four firms that responded to the state’s request for proposals for the contract are Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte Consulting, McGladrey, and Alvarez and Marsal Public Sector Services.

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