Reorganization of State Governments

May 23, 1938

Report Outline
Current Reorganization Proposals in States
Governor as General Manager of Administration
Departmental Reorganization in the States, 1917–1928
Administrative Reorganization Since 1931

Current Reorganization Proposals in States

Within the last 20 years, while the services performed by state governments have been growing rapidly both in number and complexity, more than half the states have attempted to promote efficiency in the management of these services by making drastic changes in their administrative machinery. The movement for administrative reorganization has been looked upon as one of the most significant trends in state government during the present century.

The movement for administrative reform in state governments began to take definite form about 1917, when a comprehensive reorganization plan was put into effect in Illinois. The movement at once gained headway, and during the next decade administrative systems in 14 other states were revamped. Since 1931, under the stress of reduced revenues and added services, 10 additional states have reorganized their departmental structures. Still other states, while eschewing comprehensive departmental reorganization, have made important administrative improvements piecemeal—through the introduction of budget systems, the revision of personnel methods, the establishment of centralized purchasing agencies, or the installation of new administrative procedures.

Recent Action on Reorganization Measures

Laws providing for thorough administrative reorganization were enacted in three states—Connecticut, Tennessee, and Wisconsin—during 1937 legislative sessions, and the Massachusetts legislature authorized the appointment of a special commission to survey and recommend changes in the administrative machinery in that state. Reorganization of the executive branch of the New Jersey state government was pledged by candidates of both major parties in the gubernatorial elections last November, and a reorganization bill offered by State Senator Glee, the defeated Republican candidate, is now under consideration in the state legislature. The measure would consolidate into 19 integrated departments the 61 independent boards and commissions constituting the present administrative structure. Administrative authority of the governor would be greatly increased by empowering him to appoint directors for each of the departments. The present state civil service commission would be abolished and its functions transferred to a department of personnel, while an executive department would be given jurisdiction over planning, interstate cooperation, state police, housing, military affairs, and liquor control. Seven existing agencies would be consolidated into a department of natural resources.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
State and Local Governments
Feb. 26, 2021  State Finances
Sep. 11, 2009  State Budget Crisis
Oct. 03, 2003  State Budget Crises
Dec. 24, 1971  State Legislatures in Transition
Sep. 25, 1968  State Constitutional Reform
Oct. 11, 1967  Local Government Modernization
Aug. 15, 1956  Metropolitan Government
May 25, 1939  Reorganization of City Government
Feb. 24, 1939  Reorganization of County Government
May 23, 1938  Reorganization of State Governments
Oct. 29, 1937  State Control of Local Government
Sep. 01, 1936  Consolidation of Local Governments
Jan. 03, 1933  Reorganization of Local Government
Jun. 02, 1930  Changes in American City Government
Oct. 30, 1924  Political Statistics of the States
State, Local, and Intergovernmental Relations