In Maryland, with the state and local governments facing rising budget deficits, "consolidation" has become one of the most discussed ways to cut costs.
In his budget proposal, Gov. Martin O'Malley relies on consolidation in several departments to cut costs, including a call to merge together all the state transportation department's police forces.
Such moves will save money in the long term, but in the short term, consolidation in government often costs money.
In Montgomery County, leaders want to merge together parts of the county's recreation department and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission. The moves deal with permits for athletic fields and how children can sign up for sports programs. The changes would cost $200,000, according to one county council member. In addition, studies into such moves can also be expensive according to county Council Member George Leventhal.
"In order to achieve a relatively small consolidation and efficiency, we had to appoint a 30-member task force. That's a fact -- that's not a joke," he says.
Consolidation will become more prominent in the county in the coming years, as a report to be released in the coming months is expected to call for drastic mergers among county agencies.
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