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Every executive branch agency has agreed to meet with the Office of Management and Budget and Gov. Doug Burgum’s office for strategic reviews in budgeting for the 2019-21 biennium — a new process that began Thursday.

OMB director Joe Morrissette said the meetings are voluntary. Agencies will meet with OMB, the governor’s office and the state’s information technology department in early planning on how to accommodate Burgum’s budgetary guidelines of 5 or 10 percent reductions, with a 3 percent contingency.

The meetings are scheduled throughout the next five weeks, followed by agencies' further work on their budgets, according to Morrissette. Submissions to OMB are due July 15, but with some flexibility for extensions as far out as late September.

He added he’s encouraged by the agencies’ interest to participate, especially since previous years’ budget development hasn’t necessarily included reviews or feedback this early in the process, instead coming typically “at the tail end.”

“Here we’re saying we’re going to have a different step at the beginning of the process where we’re going to have a dialogue, we're going to ask them for their ideas and just have a discussion about how they move forward with their budget,” Morrissette said. “It’s kind of an exciting process, something we’ve never done before so we’re going to kind of learn as we go.”

He also said he has had positive and negative remarks and concerns over the “reinvention.”

“I think for the most part, people recognize that things can always be done differently, and there’s always room to improve, but on the other hand, change is never easy for anybody,” Morrissette said.

State Auditor Josh Gallion and state Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger were the first two of 55 agencies to meet for strategic reviews.

Gallion said the sitdown was an opportunity to relay the duties and mission of his office to the governor.

"We just want to build on the information we have, take the next two to three months during the budgeting cycle to really figure all of that out, those specifics," he said.

Rauschenberger said his meeting was a good one-on-one opportunity to describe the tax department’s daily operations and the wake of the 2017 budget cuts.

“I think it’s important, even as a separately elected constitutional agency, for the governor to understand the direction of our agency, how we operate from day to day,” he said, noting the importance of technology and customer service for his department.

Burgum will present his budget recommendation to the Legislature in December, before the next session begins in January, limited to 80 days. The next biennium begins July 1, 2019.

“This is really step one of a yearlong process,” Rauschenberger said. “Actually, almost to the day, I suppose.”

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Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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Capitol Reporter