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

Recommendations of the Texas Comptroller

Chapter 9: Transportation



The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is at a crossroads and must abandon its outdated, business-as-usual approach to meet the challenges of the Internet Age. To meet them, TxDOT will need exceptional vision, new skills, and the ability to react quickly to the changing needs of the emerging economy. In the 21st century, planners, engineers, systems analysts, and business managers—among others—will play just as important a role in transportation as construction crews.

TxDOT must learn to adapt to an economy powered by services and high technology and changing patterns of business and personal transportation. It can do so by adopting innovative management techniques that can provide higher-quality results for the agency’s ultimate customers, the businesses and citizens of Texas.

Use Innovative Financing Techniques

One of the most pressing issues raised by Texans in e-Texas hearings is the need for increased funding to ease traffic congestion. TxDOT has estimated that its current funding streams will meet only 36 percent of Texas’ needs for road construction projects over the coming decade. TxDOT’s analysis attributed its declining ability to meet Texas’ needs to two major factors—inflation and traffic increases.

Texas can better meet its critical transportation needs by making the best use of all opportunities to maximize the impact of its revenues. These opportunities include new funding mechanisms such as GARVEE bonds and federal credit assistance available through the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA). Both programs are designed to maximize the ability of states to use federal funding to further their highway projects and complete them more quickly than would be possible under traditional approaches.

In addition, TxDOT could use Texas’ State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) Program to increase its funding by issuing revenue bonds for state and local construction projects.

Use Innovative Contracting Options to Speed Road Construction

“Time has a way of killing projects,” Jerry Hiebert, executive director of the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), told us at e-Texas’ Arlington hearing. “The more time we spend on planning, permitting and funding, the less likely the project will be implemented.”

TxDOT needs to focus more on delivering projects quickly and less on time-consuming processes. Two ways to do this are to increase the use of A+B bidding and to authorize design-build contracting to complete highway projects faster. While these innovative methods will not necessarily replace traditional contracting methods, they should be used in circumstances where it will provide benefits to the taxpayer, such as increased completion speed on complex projects.

Another way to accelerate project delivery and obtain greater funding for infrastructure projects is to make better use of the Texas Turnpike Authority (TTA). The Authority’s considerably greater flexibility and responsiveness in project development allow it to deliver projects more quickly than TxDOT and use innovative practices such as exclusive development agreements.

Register Vehicles Online

Each year, TxDOT sends out millions of vehicle registration notices that must be returned with the appropriate fees to the county assessor-collector, in person or by mail. TxDOT recently began a pilot project allowing for vehicle registration through the Internet. This project should be enhanced to reduce the workload on county assessor-collectors and increase the process’s convenience for Texans.

Create County “One-stop Shops” for Vehicle Titling and Registration

Texans can title and register their vehicles either with their home counties or through TxDOT’s headquarters and regional offices. Some transactions, however, require visits to both county and state offices. To make the process more customer-friendly, county assessor-collector offices should be authorized to act as “one-stop shops” for vehicle titling and registration.

Streamline TxDOT Internal Business Practices

TxDOT should strive to streamline and improve its business practices so that it can devote as much of its funding as possible toward meeting Texas’ transportation needs. Reengineering through advanced technology or better personnel allocations could improve the agency’s business processes and maximize its positive impact on Texas’ transportation needs.

Recommendations for doing this include using private-sector practices to reduce costs and flattening management layers and reallocating staffing to increase efficiency. In addition, applying just-in-time practices throughout TxDOT should significantly reduce the amount of warehouse space the agency needs, as well as the resources required to receive, store, inventory, and distribute materials and supplies.

Achieve Greater Cost-Efficiency by Consolidating Project Contracts

Currently, TxDOT has a tendency to spread projects among numerous small contracts, meaning the agency must devote a considerable amount of effort and resources to mobilizing, inspecting, and managing each of many contracts. TxDOT should look for opportunities to aggregate its projects.

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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