Show Me the Money

This interview is an excerpt from GovLoops recent guide, The Workforce Behind State and Local Government. Download the full guide here.

Brian Maxwell, Director of Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget

Job Description

In addition to his role as the enterprise human resources management policy lead, Maxwell is also tasked with creating the plan and structure for benefits for the state’s current and retired employees. “We are the administrative distribution arm for pension checks, we also hold pre-retirement workshops and administer the pension fund,” he said. And if that wasn’t keeping him busy, Maxwell leads the budget planning and administration division under the Office of Management and Budget. In this role, Maxwell and his team develop the budget, execute the budget and make sure agencies stick to their budget projections. And to cap it all off, Maxwell is also in charge of maintaining the state’s physical footprint by overseeing management of the state’s more than 200 facilities.

Overcoming Challenges

As the central state agency, the Office of Management and Budget regularly acts as a support agency to other departments. If an agency runs into a fiscal issue, the OMB does its best to remedy the situation.

The challenge is making sure to continue to balance the budget, while giving agencies the fiscal flexibility to make necessary adjustments. Think of it like a budgetary seesaw. Maxwell says the Department of Correction’s drug costs is a perfect example of how OMB acts as a support agency. “The Department of Correction is legally obligated to provide medical services to its inmates. However, the cost of pharmaceutical products for certain ailments has gone up significantly in the past year,” Maxwell said. The increase in drug costs could create a budget shortfall in the middle budget cycle. When that happens, Maxwell explained, “the DOC would come to the budget office and say, ‘We’re running into an operating deficit with regards to our pharmaceutical bills,’ and it would be my job as OMB Director to find resources to satisfy that obligation.”

Why the Job Matters

Just 10 years ago, Delaware’s Office of Management and Budget was split into two separate organizations. The two offices, the Budget Office and the Office of Administrative Services, were brought together during a consolidation effort, because, as Maxwell explained, “the two departments are so tightly related, you can’t really separate management from budget.” Now, under the consolidated approach, what used to take two individuals to approve can be reviewed by the central office, which saves the state time and money. Even better, the consolidation eliminates any confusion over who needs to review a document, which streamlines processes and makes employees happier.

How the Job Impacts Government

One of the primary responsibilities of OMB is to find efficiencies within state government to maximize the taxpayer’s dollar. Maxwell says since OMB acts as a central support agency, “We see the needs across various agencies and we try to propose solutions that will satisfy multiple agencies.” For example, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Children, Youth, and Families Agency, require employees to have similar training courses. OMB got stakeholders around the table and built a statewide learning management system that both departments can use.

Tech Component

For Maxwell, technology is the great transparency enabler. “We live in the era of providing more transparency in government. The only way to effectively do that is to use technology,” he said. Using technology, Maxwell and his team have posted state expenditures online. “Now citizens can literally track where their tax dollars are being spent,” said Maxwell.

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