Digging into the 2,500 pages of the California Performance Review is like negotiating the world's least organized buffet line. A thousand different dishes are in no particular order -- salads after the roast beef, cakes among the green vegetables, ice cream with the fish croquettes. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did the smart thing, handing this monster right over to his appointed California Performance Review Commission for study and public hearings.
The first thing the commission needs to do is to get the 1,000 or more scattershot proposals into logical order, putting first those that actually would reorganize the structure of state government to provide services in a more efficient, cost-effective manner.
The report was developed over months by 250 state employees who were sworn to secrecy. Strangely, for a review meant to put the state in order, it mixes policy matters -- some important, some trivial -- with real structural reform. For instance, the review proposes that California join a multi-state lottery in an attempt to overcome "player fatigue." This may be worth considering as a short-term revenue boost, but it's not reorganization.
The many megabytes of the report (or pounds, for those who print it out) are, however, studded with good ideas: Make state government more user-friendly by treating citizens as welcome customers. Allow callers to actually get through to people. Upgrade the computerized handling of such things as tax and fee receipts, drivers' license renewal and data storage. It's what any good business would study periodically. Such logical internal changes could be implemented by the governor by executive order, giving a boost to the more difficult changes that will need legislative approval or a change in the state Constitution.