Dunleavy pledged to ‘restore the public trust,’ but signed secret order focusing power in Outside budget director

Gov. Mike Dunleavy. (Photo by Matt Buxton/TMS)

Outside: Anywhere that is not Alaska.

The Associated Press Stylebook for Alaska, second edition

“This election is about restoring trust,” Gov. Mike Dunleavy said while on the campaign trail.

We heard the refrain time after time on the campaign trail:That Dunleavy would be doing things differently and he would include the public in the many tough decisions ahead.

 “Restoring trust with Alaskans will be my most urgent priority after I become governor on Dec. 3,” he promised after he secured his victory.

So where then was his attention to public trust on Dec. 5 when he secretly signed a sweeping administrative order to immediately centralize all budgetary power under his Outside budget director Donna Arduin, who has no connections to Alaska?

The order, which has still yet to be published by the administration, was provided last night to The Midnight Sun and Fairbanks columnist and blogger Dermot Cole (who’s up working late to bring you the latest from the new administration) by what appear to be different sources.

It outlines a massive consolidation of power under Dunleavy by“centralizing all significant services oversight within the Office of Management and Budget,” which is part of the governor’s office. It means that the budget folks that have been housed in each department will now report directly to Arduin, who by the way has a “history of dubious reports” for Republican administrations across the country, instead of their commissioners.

Why it matters

Such a change had appeared to just be in consideration on Thursday—one source informed us of the possibility on Thursday afternoon, describing it as rumor—but it turns out that it had already been completed the day before and only to be disclosed by leaks to Alaska’s bloggers (though, oddly enough, this seems to be one time where the “independent” Must Read Alaska didn’t have the scoop).

“The purpose of this order is to streamline and increase accountability of budget and policy administration,” Dunleavy’s administrative order explained, saying it would ensure “cohesive and effective implementation of statewide policy and fiscal directives.”

That source warned against such sweeping changes, though, arguing that new administrations “don’t know what they don’t know,” noting it was a problem for Gov. Bill Walker’s administration, too.

The source also said that if it happened, it would at best show the administration doesn’t trust its slate of new commissioners to handle their own agencies and at worst suggest something more nefarious is underway.

In his Nov. 29 editorial “Restoring Alaskans’ trust in government,” the governor wrote the following:

“To those Alaskans who voted for a different candidate, I also want to make a commitment. Whatever issues may divide us, I didn’t run for governor so that I could go down to Juneau and pick winners and losers. I ran for governor because I want to make this state a better place for all Alaskans.”

But this secretive move does precisely the opposite.

It won’t be the commissioners—who, while their qualifications vary wildly, at least can call Alaska home—picking the winners and losers, but an OMB director who just landed in Alaska hot off implementing supply-side economics for other Republican states.

Is that really what Alaskans voted for?

Administrative order 302

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11 Comments on "Dunleavy pledged to ‘restore the public trust,’ but signed secret order focusing power in Outside budget director"

  1. At first blush, this seems like a good idea.

  2. The idea that “outsiders” are somehow unfit to contribute to our state is the laziest, dumbest talking point, and more often than not it comes from some Anchorage kid who has never lived in the “real Alaska” anyway.

    The fact is political parties, candidates, and businesses from every walk regularly hire people from outside to lead projects, campaigns, etc (up to and including Begich). The magic of our state is that we don’t care where someone is from, or who their family is, or who they know. We’re all transplants. The fact that this woman has no connections to the state probably makes her *more* qualified to engage in an unbiased review of the budget– if you think her partisanship is a problem, write that article instead. But couldn’t care less about where she used to live.

  3. Maybe by doing that it could avoid secret squirrel money that was getting used for things that it was not intended to be used for. Such as the former commissioner for DPS using “found” money, that was to go for a village 911 system, used instead for a charter jet lease. When Gov. Walker ordered a dept to pay for some posters for Bree’s Law, yet when approched by the parents for the money, the dept. were told them to pound pound sand. I personally like knowing where the buck stops.
    Just saying.

  4. I wonder what the salary will be for this head of the Office of Management and Budget? I can appreciate the thought, as others have noted, that having no connections to the state could make a person to engage in an unbiased review of the budget. But my thought is that because she has no connections to the state or the people here, she has nothing to lose. Like her previous jobs, she is only there for a brief time, cutting the bottom out of the social safety net, and then moving on.

  5. After reviewing the comments I wonder what ever happened to the “local hire” to ensure Alaskans are first when it comes to jobs, when it is also written that a kid from Anchorage does not know Alaska or that we are all transplants, what a ridicules thing to say. If the governor has no faith in Alaskans, then why did he run. The way Alaskans here in Anchorage handled the earth quake and got everything up and running in record time shows that Anchorage’s citizens have the Alaskan know how.

  6. Thanks to the Midnight Sun for promoting more xenophobia in Alaska. We sure don’t have enough of that already. Secret memo? Can’t be that secret If you guys got a hold of it.

    It long overdue for a skilled outsider to benchmark our state spending against the real world that other states live in. The new OMB Director is an amazing get, considering all her high profile experience in this arena. Just what we need now.

  7. Alaska Legislature hires Outside consultants all the time. There may be legitimate issues with how the Dunleavy Administration operates but none so far an certainly not this action.

  8. Pay the PDF owed. Now! not later. We want it now as promised. This what people voted for. This is priority! Follow thru on promise.!

  9. “Arduin, …..holds bachelor’s degrees in public policy and economics from Duke University. In emails…… Arduin clarified that she is not an economist.”

    Why is she here?

  10. This ‘public’ can’t trust an administration which removes public information from state websites! e.g. the past governors Climate Change Task Force Report and the Walker 2020 budget proposal for two.

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