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Our Opinion: Common-sense comparison

Increased government efficiency is the goal of legislation advanced Thursday by the Missouri Senate.

On a 34-0 vote, senators approved and sent to the House a bill that would authorize the state auditor to perform one-time comparison audits of the state’s largest agencies.

Sponsoring Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, was prompted to file the bill after noticing similar duties being performed in a variety of state operations without any unified appraisal to determine which method is most efficient and effective.

The comparison audit is designed to provide that unified appraisal.

The legislation requires the state auditor to develop common criteria to evaluate at least five, but not more than 10, of the largest state agencies.

The auditor must report the findings to the Legislature, statewide elected officials and state agencies.

The findings must include recommendations for “efficiency and cost-saving measures, including recommended changes to agency policy or state law, that could reduce the amount of government spending.”

Schaefer, who also is Senate appropriation’s chairman, based his proposal on a common business model. He explained, “if you have a large company ... you do an internal audit to compare how your different programs within your company do the same function — and then you try and find efficiencies when you compare things.”

He added that although the comparison is standard practice in the business realm, “it’s never really been done in the public sector.”

Perhaps now it will be.

We commend Schaefer and fellow senators for bringing a common-sense practice to government operations.

And we encourage the House and Gov. Jay Nixon to shepherd the proposal into law.

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