Conduct more Performance Reviews
The Texas Comptroller’s office was once the lead agency for studying state government and recommending reforms to reduce waste, fraud, abuse and duplication in state spending. The Legislature statutorily took away that function from the Comptroller’s office and gave it to the Legislative Budget Board (LBB in 2003).
It’s time for the Comptroller to seek approval from the Legislature to return this activity to the Comptroller’s office, but – even before such legislative approval – the Comptroller can, and should, take action. Every agency in state government should speak up when it identifies waste, fraud or abuse. This is especially true for the Comptroller’s office, since it cuts every check for every disbursement of our entire state government, making it the clearing house for all state expenses.
Because the Comptroller’s office is the central source of information for cost control in state government, it is only logical to start at the place where all the relevant information is located.
The Comptroller’s office is best suited to conduct Performance Review studies. It shouldn’t wait for a green light from the Legislature. It should act now. Regardless of the timing of the Legislature passing a statutorily-based obligation to identify and recommend ways to get rid of waste, the Comptroller’s office can begin non-binding studies and report its findings to the taxpayers and the Legislature for consideration.
These non-binding studies should kick-start a re-examination by the Legislature as to its decision to place Performance Reviews in the LBB and outside the Comptroller’s office. The LBB is simply not best suited to carry out these studies, since it does not have any constitutional authority over revenue estimation and fiscal notes, as the Comptroller clearly possesses. Consequently, the LBB’s findings always have to be confirmed or adjusted by the Comptroller’s office regarding the dollar amounts involved in their recommendations. By having the Performance Reviews once again housed in the Comptroller’s office, taxpayers will have a “one-stop shop” back in business looking to identify – and quantify – savings from the eradication of waste, fraud and abuse.
The Legislature never asked the Comptroller’s office to stop thinking and offering ideas on how to stretch tax dollars even further. Harvey Hilderbran will re-establish this function as soon as I take the oath of office.
Before and after regaining the power to carry out “Performance Reviews” on state agencies and spending, Harvey Hilderbran will set-up a Performance Review office in the Comptroller’s office, so waste, fraud, abuse and duplication can be kept at the absolute minimum in our state government.