From procuring new business to following government guidelines, Joe D. Tanner saw a need to help companies navigate the intricacies of state and local government. He founded Joe Tanner & Associates in 1997 to offer his extensive expertise in governmental relations and business development to clients throughout Georgia.
In representing the interests of his clients, Joe Tanner draws on his 26 years of experience in Georgia government under four governors, to whom he acted as a key policy advisor. During the tenures of Carter, Busbee, Harris and Miller, Tanner was responsible for more than 400 pieces of major legislation, including these innovative landmarks:
- Consolidation of 38 state agencies by creation of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources in 1972.
- Origin of Georgia 's federally acclaimed one-stop environmental permitting system for all state and federal authorizations.
- Revision of all of the state's environmental and water resource laws. Revision of the state's unemployment insurance laws to make them more responsive to business and industry.
- Gradual abolishment of the Georgia civil service system by requiring that all new state workers as of July 1996 be "employment at will" workers.
Joe Tanner served as Commissioner of the Department of Natural Resources not once but twice, from the department's creation in 1972 until May 1984 and from December 1990 until May 1995. Under his leadership, the department was responsible for numerous environmental, geological, historical, and recreational programs.
Gov. Miller brought Tanner back as Commissioner in 1990 to oversee the resolution of the "water wars," as the media dubbed the federal water-supply suit brought by Florida and Alabama against Georgia . Tanner successfully negotiated an interim water agreement that was signed by the governors of all three states. From that agreement, an accord was subsequently reached that resulted in the historic Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa Compact and the Appalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint Compact.
In 1995, Gov. Zell Miller tapped Tanner to direct Georgia 's innovative initiative to privatize many state government functions. Under Tanner's guidance, efforts at privatizing everything from Stone Mountain Park to Lake Lanier Islands Beach and Water Park to park lodges and golf courses to delinquent tax collection were so successful that the state realized savings and/or earnings of more than $1 billion.
In 1984, Tanner was asked by Gov. Harris to step in as Commissioner of the Department of Labor in order to restore confidence in the agency, which was in chaos after the resignation of the former commissioner. While restoring department morale, Joe Tanner reorganized the agency to make more efficient and less political. In addition to revamping the department's employment and unemployment programs, Tanner increased the state's unemployment insurance trust fund from $400 million to more than $1 billion in just five years.
Tanner, a native of Twin City who makes his home in Atlanta, majored in business administration at the University of Georgia.