Oversight commission demands TxDOT reform

| Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Members of a state oversight commission want to strip the Texas Department of Transportation of its power to set its own agenda.

The Texas Sunset Advisory Commission released a staff report dated June 2008 “against a backdrop of distrust and frustration” many Texans have with the TxDOT.

The Texas Legislature created the 12-member Sunset Advisory Commission in 1977 to review more than 150 government agencies on a 12-year cycle. The commission includes 10 state representatives and senators and two members from the general public. Their mission is to identify and eliminate waste and duplication. Click here to read more about the commission.

“In most cases, agencies under Sunset review are automatically abolished unless legislation is enacted to continue them,” the commission Web site states.

The Sunset Advisory Commission has scheduled a July 15 public hearing regarding its TxDOT report at the state Capitol building in Austin, TX. The time and room will be announced two weeks in advance of the hearing, a commission staff member told Land Line.

The commission last completed a review of TxDOT in 1997. If the current recommended reforms are not enacted by the Texas Legislature in the form of legislation, the sunset for TxDOT in its current form would occur in 2009.

The Sunset Advisory Commission has recommended a four-year plan for reducing TxDOT’s control of transportation policy and returning that power to the Legislature.

As is customary, the departments under review prepare detailed responses to the claims and recommendations found in the commission reports.

Meanwhile, TxDOT officials issued a brief reaction statement on Tuesday, June 3.

“The confidence of the Legislature and the public are very important to us. We still have work to do, but we are confident that our ongoing efforts to improve the transparency and accessibility of TxDOT are making a positive impact,” stated Chris Lippincott, TxDOT spokesman. “We look forward to our continued work with the members and staff of the Sunset Commission.”

Following is a list of the Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations for TxDOT and the Legislature:

  • Achieve greater accountability under the oversight of a single commissioner of transportation. Legislative action would include the abolishment of the Texas Transportation Commission and have it replaced with a single appointed commissioner.
  • Establish a legislative oversight committee.
  • Provide better access to independent transportation information and research.
  • Increase transparency of TxDOT’s transportation planning and project development process.
  • Improve TxDOT’s public involvement efforts.
  • Make the department’s contracting functions more accountable, particularly its development of comprehensive development agreements.

 

Click here to read the Sunset Advisory Commission report.

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