Government Reform Task Force
The Government Reform Task Force will review the performance and governance of Texas’ public sector. The review will focus on three core areas:
- The civil service corps and the range of well-publicized failures and performance issues experienced at state agencies.
- The state’s licensing and regulation of the private sector economy.
- The Texas Sunset process in general.
The Civil Service Crisis: Given ongoing scandals, it is evident that the public sector in Texas is in crisis, plagued by poor performance and even criminal behavior on the part of some public employees. The fundamental problem with the public sector is that the supposed prerogatives of the bureaucrat are placed above the clear needs of program beneficiaries and often to the detriment of the taxpayer.
The Government Reform Task Force will consider policies necessary to develop systems and management structures at state agencies that prioritize the needs of taxpayers and beneficiaries first and state employees second. The Task Force will seek to improve the state’s corps of civil servants, including better utilization of the private sector to perform tasks that are currently carried out by state workers.
Licensing and Regulation: The Task Force will address the operation of state government, with a particular emphasis on state regulation and licensing.
In January 2009, the House Committee on Government Reform issued its Interim Report, which argued that “just as licensing laws grant practitioners the right to practice a certain occupation, they also explicitly prohibit the unlicensed practice of that occupation.” Evidence noted in the report suggests that excessive licensing requirements will have a negative impact on job growth. Texas regulates or licenses more than one-third of its workforce, a rate higher than the national average, which is estimated to be 28 percent. The Task Force will review these issues, spurred by the recognition that government regulation has the same negative effect on Texas’ business climate as high taxes.
The Sunset Process: Reviewing the Texas Sunset process is also critical. The Sunset process should give legislators an opportunity to make systemic reforms to agencies that improve their ability to serve Texans and deliver quality service at the lowest possible cost to taxpayers. Agencies that no longer serve a necessary function should be abolished. In recent years, the Sunset process has drifted away from these core principles and evolved into a mechanism through which incremental policy changes are made replicating the performance review function of the Legislative Budget Board. The Task Force will discuss refocusing the Sunset process to strengthen Texas government and to help ensure that necessary reforms can be made when agencies are failing.