© December, 2000
Carole Keeton Rylander
Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
Report of the e-Texas Commission


Transmittal Letter

December 20, 2000

To the Honorable Carole Keeton Rylander:

Last November, you formed the e-Texas Commission, asking us to place state government “under a microscope” and produce a comprehensive set of recommendations designed to bring Texas government into the 21st century. Today, we are pleased to present the results of that effort. This report represents a bridge to the future—our attempt to create a road map for Texas government to follow over the next ten years.

When you created the Commission, you charged us with six goals:

  1. Improve education and learning for all Texans.
  2. Save tax dollars.
  3. Empower communities and individuals.
  4. Refocus government on customer service.
  5. Streamline government operations.
  6. Institutionalize the Yellow Pages Test in state government. (“Government should do no job if there is a business in the Yellow Pages that can do that job better and at a lower cost.”)

We used these goals to guide our efforts throughout a year of research.

You asked us to think creatively and be guided by what we believe to be in the best interest of all Texans. In that spirit, we hope that the vision for Texas we lay out in this report represents a significant break from traditional practice, and a blueprint for lasting change for state government.

We believe new technologies and radically new social and economic structures that are emerging as a result of these innovations can and should result in equally sweeping changes in the way government does business. Major changes are ahead in nearly every facet of government, from education to the housing and rehabilitation of prisoners. The opportunities for improvement are unlimited, but they will require a fundamental commitment to reform from the state’s policy leaders and public servants.

The e-Texas Approach

The e-Texas review of state government represented a true public-private partnership between your Texas Performance Review (TPR) staff and more than 150 citizen commissioners and volunteers. This effort could not have succeeded without the expertise of the TPR staff in policy and state operations, and we are grateful for their support.

E-Texas achieved a new and unprecedented level of citizen involvement. This project embodied the idea that government exists of, by and for the people.

Building on the original concept underlying TPR—to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Texas government—you called for the addition of two new public components to the review process. The first was the e-Texas Commission, a citizen’s oversight body comprising 14 issue-related task forces, each chaired by a respected state leader. The second led us to recruit volunteers from across the state to serve on each of these task forces.

This partnership combined the Comptroller’s legislative mandate to review state government with a high degree of citizen leadership and participation. The collaboration of top Texas leaders, highly-motivated staff members and knowledgeable citizen volunteers yielded a uniquely open and effective review process.

The Commission

Three e-Texas Commission co-chairmen and 14 task force leaders provided leadership, oversight and direction to the effort. They devoted countless hours to the program and held six public meetings of the full commission to discuss and debate issues ranging from the future of health care to the training needs of the state’s workforce.

The 14 task forces covered both functional and cross-governmental areas:

• Education Chair, Charles Miller
• Environment and Natural Resources Chair, Noe Fernandez
• Health Care and Human Services Chair, Dr. Thomas R. Saving
• Public Safety and Corrections Chair, Elizabeth Lang-Miers
• Transportation Chair, Massey Villarreal
• Workforce Chair, Sonceria “Sonny” Messiah-Jiles

• Asset and Financial Management Chair, Thomas O. Hicks
• Competitive Government Chair, Bill Hammond
• E-Government Chair, Rosendo Parra
• Government Performance Chair, The Honorable John Fainter, Jr.
• Human Resource Management Chair, Laura Ayoub Keith
• Legislative Advisory Committee Chair, The Honorable Robert Duncan
• Local Government Empowerment Chair, The Honorable Kevin Eltife
• Regulatory Reform Chair, Gerald B. Smith

A Volunteer Effort

In addition to the e-Texas commissioners, 139 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and worked to complete the project. These dedicated Texans underwent orientation and subject-area training and adopted a set of operating guidelines for their efforts. They met with staff teams in more than 20 working sessions to help define issues and offer their own unique perspectives.

Some of the volunteer activities included interviews with inmates in a correctional facility; the design of a special Internet-based form to facilitate input on savings ideas; and hands-on assignments to conduct research and reports on e-Texas issues. A retired corporate CEO, for example, took the lead in developing one of our health care and human services team issues.

In all, e-Texas volunteers contributed more than 7,000 hours of their time to the project. Many may become involved in legislative initiatives that support the issues they helped shape. Given the breadth of their expertise and the time they committed to e-Texas, we believe their contributions together, with in-kind support we received, were worth over $1 million.

The efforts of these citizens sparked extraordinary interest in e-Texas, helping us attract significant media attention. More importantly, their teamwork seemed to rekindle the time-honored notion that government belongs to the people, and people have a responsibility to help make it work. Their contributions were more valuable than can ever be adequately expressed.

Public Participation

The e-Texas project generated an unprecedented amount of public attention. Literally hundreds of Texans sent e-mails and letters filled with suggestions and encouragement. Our task forces carefully reviewed each recommendation, and several found their way into the final report. Meanwhile, an electronic idea bank we established for Comptroller employees generated more than 100 useful ideas to cut costs and improve productivity.

The “virtual” world was not the only avenue we used to solicit citizen participation. We also sought out good ideas in the old-fashioned way, through face-to-face meetings. In more than two dozen public commission meetings and hearings, we heard from policy experts, public leaders, and innovators from all over Texas and around the country, with expertise in subjects ranging from worksite schools to new-economy investment policies. The hearings, held in all corners of Texas from El Paso to Corpus Christi, attracted more than 850 participants.

In College Station, we talked about the crucial role education will play in our children’s future, and the hurdles they’ll face in a high-speed, high-tech economy. Dr. Jim Scales, superintendent of the College Station Independent School District, warned that our kids “can’t be marketable if they are not comfortable with technology.” Randy Corbin, an account manager for Cisco Systems, discussed how his company is partnering with schools and colleges in all 50 states and more than 50 countries to provide the sort of training companies like his will need.

In Houston, we learned how information technology (IT) can revolutionize government operations by streamlining and simplifying administrative tasks while cutting costs. John Bunn, a Microsoft area manager, told us that IT can lead to lower internal costs, “improved employee morale and empowerment, better decisions being made faster, [and] reduced process cycle times.” Making Microsoft’s Human Resources department “paperless” has allowed the company to eliminate some 200 paper forms, offer 24-hour employee services, and save more than $1 million each year.

In Dallas, we discussed the impact of the Internet on the world of health and human services. “The Internet is producing revolutionary changes in the structures, relationships and thinking in medicine,” said Dr. Ricardo Martinez, senior vice president of Health Affairs for Healtheon/WebMD. The “wired world” offers health care consumers a universe of useful medical information and helps to create a better dialogue between doctors and patients, so that we can take more responsibility for our own health care and become better informed about the treatment options available to us.

These and many other observations helped e-Texas develop a comprehensive, fully- rounded picture of the challenges and opportunities facing Texas as it enters the new century.

Texas Government: A New Beginning

This report will make a real and lasting contribution to Texans in every walk of life. It combines bold vision with practical, workable solutions that can help state government be an asset instead of a liability to the people of this great state.

We see the release of our report not as an end, but rather a beginning: the start of a process that we hope will remake Texas government along new lines based on performance, customer service, results and cost-effectiveness. We will gladly lend our support to the multiple and complex initiatives that will be needed in the coming months and years to bring about this evolution.

Finally, along with the commissioners, volunteers, and staff of e-Texas, we wish to thank you for this unique opportunity to serve our state. Your dedication to this project—and to the cause of transforming government for the good of all Texans—has been extraordinary.


Dr. Wendy Gramm

Hector De Leon

Hon. Tom Loeffler

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

Privacy Policy