e-Texas e-Texassmaller smarter faster governmentDecember, 2000
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts

Recommendations of the Texas Comptroller

Chapter 3: Government Performance


The goals of Texas’ original performance budgeting system was to concentrate on “managing for results.” This process requires a comprehensive approach focusing an organization on its mission, goals, and objectives, and establishing meaningful performance measures to report progress toward those goals and objectives. The current Texas system does this, but it is now time to move to the next level to enhance performance.

Results-based governments identify what works and what doesn’t—which programs achieve results and which waste money—and set their budget and management priorities accordingly.

Focus on Big-Picture Results in the Budget Process

The “big picture”—the things truly important to the average Texan—sometimes gets lost in Texas’ budget process. The legislative budget process tends to focus on individual agencies and specifically on agency strategies and performance measures. Agencies report their progress, and this information is used to assess their performance. Because these performance assessments don’t extend beyond the level of individual agencies, assessments of progress toward statewide goals (and their 81 statewide related benchmarks) are difficult, if not impossible.

To correct this, Texas should amend the state’s strategic planning and performance budgeting system to improve the use of statewide benchmarks, and create government benchmark partnerships in Texas. The state should also select agencies of various sizes and functions to implement the Balanced Scorecard, a management tool that focuses an organization’s strategies on customers, finances, internal business processes, employee development and innovation.

Make Results Transparent to the Public

Government cannot be held accountable unless it is open—“transparent”—so that the public can understand what government is doing and what the results of its actions are. Greater transparency generates greater political pressure for government agencies to perform, which in turn, can result in greater accountability and better results. Results achieved by Texas government—and those not achieved—should be made available in clear, user-friendly forms to a wide audience including the Legislature, citizens, the news media, the business community, and interest groups.

New technology is helping some government agencies make progress in this area, but it is not enough simply to put information on the Internet. Information must be packaged in a user-friendly way. The state should provide Texans with an online version of the General Appropriations Act to give the public access to information on appropriations and performance measures, organized not only by agency, but also by statewide goals, benchmarks, and service categories. Moreover, the state should publish a statewide annual report on the Web illustrating progress toward specific statewide goals and benchmarks.

Give Agencies More Freedom in Exchange for Greater Accountability

The quest for improved government performance and efficiency often can be thwarted by well-intentioned but unnecessary obstacles. The statutes and regulations governing agencies’ internal structures and conduct may have an impact—sometimes an adverse one—on agency performance.

While it is essential to hold agencies accountable for their decisions, it is also important to grant agencies the freedom to achieve results. Legislative bodies should define what functions agencies should perform, but grant agency managers some flexibility in determining how they will accomplish them.

Eliminate Unnecessary Reporting Requirements and Red Tape

Government does a great job in adding new rules and requirements—for its employees and for businesses and citizens—but a lousy job in eliminating outdated and onerous rules and regulations. Different state agencies ask for the same or similar information in separate reports, and different divisions within the same agency may require similar information.

Local governments file some reports only because they are required to do so by law. The requirements were imposed for valid reasons at the time they were created. However, the need for some of these reports no longer exists. It is not uncommon for local governments to spend valuable resources on filing reports that will not even be reviewed by the state agency to which they are sent.

Of course, some reports are essential for financial reporting or regulatory accountability. In these cases, however, the method of reporting often requires labor-intensive manual processes. The state should streamline state and federal reporting requirements on local governments.

e-Texas is an initiative of Carole Keeton Rylander, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Post Office Box 13528, Capitol Station
Austin, Texas

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