| Competitive Government Task Force|
Austin, March 21, 2000
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander Hears
Competitive Government Concerns in Austin
Government needs to follow the lead of the private sector and adopt a network business model that is more flexible, and move away from the traditional top heavy, multi-layered business organization model, according to testimony given at the e-Texas Competitive Government hearing at the Capitol.
Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander is taking input from the public and private sector to find ways to make government smaller and smarter through her e-Texas initiative, a citizen commission charged with developing recommendations to help Texas state government meet the challenges of the Internet Age. The Competitive Government Task Force is one of 14 e-Texas task forces faced with this challenge.
"Competitive government encompasses all aspects of Texas state government," Comptroller Rylander said. "Bottomline, I want to make sure that it's easy to do business with the state of Texas."
Major issues raised by panelists and audience members included:
- Moving toward a more fluid business model
- Adjusting to the Internet's introduction of global competition, and
- Reforming the state's procurement process
"The biggest challenge faced by this task force is that we are living in a time where we are faced with almost insurmountable opportunities," Papermaster said. "This can be overwhelming, but we must find ways to manage this change."
Papermaster said there is a longstanding tradition of having government models follow business models, but usually with a lag in time. His suggestion is to find ways to cut the transition time. With the pace of change in today's world, government can't afford to fall behind.
"The Internet has leveled the playing field," Papermaster said. "Competition exists today like no other point in time and it is coming from everywhere. Texas is competing with forces that are global now."
Joe Gunn, President of Texas AFL-CIO, urged the task force to be cautious when considering online resources and outsourcing.
"We offer a few 'high road' guidelines from the perspective of working people, especially the many thousands of state employees who have dedicated their careers to public service," Gunn said.
He said state government should focus on uses of the Internet that bring the most "bang for the buck." He strongly opposes any linkage between digitalization of Texas government and privatization.
"The 'high road' approach to moving the state onto the Internet sees the resulting productivity gains as an opportunity to improve the lot of all Texans and raise the standard of state government," Gunn said.
Odysseus Lanier, partner with McConnell, Jones, Lanier & Murphy, views the Internet as a primary tool in reforming Texas' procurement process.
"We are the largest African-American owned consulting firm in the State of Texas," Lanier said. "And we started on the kitchen table."
He said the Internet helps companies, small and large, and the procurement process in Texas can benefit from its accessibility.
First, Texas should use the Internet as a virtual procurement marketplace, said Lanier. He wants to make procurement applications available, to check procurement status, and to access and receive payments online.
He also wants to require state agencies to publish planned procurements online.
Lanier had other suggestions to reform the procurement process. He would hold vendor focus groups, pre-proposal and pre-bid conferences, create strategic partnerships between the private and public sectors, and assess performance bonding on a case-by-case basis.
One audience member wanted to know how to encourage heads of state agencies to take the initiative to promote change.
Comptroller Rylander said we must think outside the box. Taking the initiative to promote change is called leadership, she said.
Travis County Constable Chris Sanders asked if the state would help counties implement online resources and become Internet accessible.
The State Comptroller's office is looking at 12 counties across the state to review and make recommendations, said Bill Eggers, Strategic Policy Initiative manager with the Comptroller's office.