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Who says government can't work?

I 'm frankly tired of hearing the snide, sarcastic comments coming from pundits and know-it-alls who incessantly claim that if the government runs something, then it's likely to be run ineffectively. I respectfully disagree, and I use as one proof the increasingly efficient and profitable control state agencies across the country. The control system has sometimes been attacked as a state monopoly and, to varying degrees, it is, though we all know how different each control state agency is in its operation and responsibilities. But even though there is an element of monopoly to a government agency controlling the wholesaling of distilled spirits throughout a state, these agencies have been getting better and better at modernizing their warehouses and retail outlets, expanding product choice and customer satisfaction, streamlining their front and back office operations, promoting responsible consumption of their products through education and enforcement initiatives, and increasing their revenues and the profits they plow back into their states' coffers.

This issue's feature story covering the Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division (see page 16) can serve as Exhibit I in demonstrating bow top-notch management and a dedicated staff can create a superior government operation. It turns out that in the 1980s, the division's warehouse and transportation functions were turned over to private contractors. By 200405, however, the division had bought back the contracts and began running the operation itself. It doubled its staff at the time, but dramatically reduced costs in the process. It is now estimated that by handling these functions itself, the division is saving more than $1 million a year. With just 60 employees overall, the division generated revenues for the state of more than $104 million in fiscal year 2009. Beyond these facts, the Iowa ABD is in a constant state of improvement and innovation on several fronts. And Iowa is just one of many control state agencies that are similarly engaged.

Indeed, while attending several seminars at the recent 72nd Annual NABCA Conference in Phoenix, AZ, I saw just how engaged key members of many control state agencies are through their presentations, as well as the questions some attendees asked and the comments others made concerning matters relevant to their operations. As I've written in previous years, this annual conference is a great place for control state officials from different backgrounds and far-flung parts of the country to meet and discuss issues of common interest.

One area of uncommon interest is a letter I received following the conference from Bill Applegate, product manager at the Idaho State Liquor Dispensary (see page 8). He relates one of those unlikely coincidences that would warm even the coldest of hearts, in a chance reunion after 39 years at the conference's final night banquet between him and a Navy shipmate.

Richard Brandes, Editor-in-Chief
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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S NOTE
Author:Brandes, Richard
Date:Jul 1, 2009
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