FINAL REPORT ON SUNSET ADVISORY COMMISSION DECISIONS: TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
The Sunset Advisory Commission is an independent state agency that periodically reviews other state agencies to determine whether those agencies should remain in existence. After lengthy staff reports and a hearing process, the Commission held its final meeting on January 12, 2011. Several important agencies are up for review this session, and many of those have been reported on in previous editions of the Legislative Update.
Some of the most relevant final recommendations from the Commission’s review of the Texas Department of Transportation are listed below. The recommendations come from a “special purpose review” of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) that is a follow-up on the full sunset review conducted in 2008. At that time, the Commission adopted and forwarded recommendations on TxDOT to the Eighty-First Legislature. However, the legislature failed to pass the TxDOT sunset bill that session. Much more detailed information on all the agencies is available at www.sunset.state.tx.us.
(Note: Sunset staff recommended that cities be required “to pay the costs of condemnation if they do not allow relocation of billboards affected by state roadway projects within their jurisdictions.” That recommendation was not adopted by the Commission, but legislation to implement it is likely to be filed.)
Trust in TxDOT
- Continue TxDOT for four years.
- Abolish the Texas Transportation Commission and replace it with an appointed commissioner of transportation.
- Request that the Senate Committee on Transportation and Homeland Security and the House Committee on Transportation continue providing necessary oversight of TxDOT and the state’s transportation system.
Transparency and Accountability
- Require TxDOT’s chief financial officer to report directly to the commissioner of transportation.
- Require TxDOT to evaluate the performance of its administrative and decision-making staff to determine whether employees should retain their positions.
Transportation Planning Process
- Require TxDOT to redevelop and regularly update the long-range Statewide Transportation Plan describing total system needs, establishing overarching statewide transportation goals, and measuring progress toward those goals.
- Require TxDOT to establish a transparent, well-defined, and understandable system of project approval and programming within TxDOT that integrates project benchmarks, timelines, priorities, and cash forecasts.
- Require TxDOT districts to develop detailed work programs driven by benchmarks for major projects and other statewide goals for smaller projects.
Need for Consistent, Unbiased, and Meaningful Public Involvement
- Require TxDOT to develop and implement a public involvement policy that guides and encourages more meaningful public involvement efforts agency-wide.