| Carole Keeton Rylander|
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Actually, Texas is in good position to blaze the trail to e-government. Part of it is our character: Texans are a proud and independent people, known for thinking big... Part is our economy, which has taught us all about adapting to change and reinventing our state... And part is our history, characterized by the pioneer spirit.
That spirit is reflected in Texas state government. But Comptroller Rylander recognizes that at times it appears government is stuck in the age of Atari and Commodore, while the rest of the world is on fast forward to web-based management and e-commerce. The Comptroller's office has worked hard to examine the state's operations, find ways to improve and create a culture of change. At the same time, the Texas Legislature has shown its willingness to embrace new ideas to improve citizen services.
For all these reasons, Texas has been at the forefront in experimenting with new mechanisms of government:
E-Texas builds on all that has gone before. It is intended not to duplicate or control these efforts, but to create a context for making decisions about the state's future.
Tackling this challenge has been a true partnership effort. It begins with the e-Texas Commission, an oversight body appointed by Comptroller Rylander, to provide citizen leadership. The Commission is made up of 17 prominent Texans—business executives, policymakers, academic and community leaders—including co-chairmen Dr. Wendy Gramm, Hector De Leon and the Honorable Tom Loeffler.
Comptroller Rylander directed the Commission to refocus government on customer service, streamline government operations, save tax dollars, improve education, empower communities and individuals, and institutionalize the "Yellow Pages Test," which reflects the belief that government should do no job if there is a business in the Yellow Pages that can do the job better and at a lower cost.
Each of the Commission's members chaired a task force on one of the major issues facing the state: asset and financial management, competitive government, e-government, education (K-16), environment/natural resources, government performance, health care and human services, human resource management, local government empowerment, public safety and corrections, regulatory reform, transportation and workforce, and there also was a legislative advisory group.
In addition, nearly 150 Texans met with staff teams to define issues and offer their perspectives. These volunteers contributed more than 7,000 hours of their time, doing everything from providing research assistance to designing an Internet-based form for money-saving ideas. Hundreds more Texans sent in suggestions or attended e-Texas hearings.
The results of this effort are captured in two volumes: the Commission's overview and the Comptroller's detailed, technical recommendations to the Legislature. These reports outline hundreds of opportunities to conduct the state's business better, faster and at a lower cost.
This summary document serves a different purpose. Our intent here is to make the big picture understandable and accessible to everyone interested in improving Texas state government. In the following pages, we therefore articulate the basic assumptions that drive the entire e-Texas effort and outline the fundamental changes required to conquer the new frontier.