from the office of State Senator Judith Zaffirini

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Gabe Valenzuela
(512) 463-0121
April 20, 2005

Senator Zaffirini Seeks Efficiency, Integrity in State Contracts

(AUSTIN) - Responding to Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's charge to offer solutions to problems related to state contracting, six senators today (April 20) filed legislation that addresses related issues including accountability, efficiency, conflicts of interest, streamlining and training.

Senator Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, chair of the Senate Finance Committee's Interim Subcommittee on State Contracting Practices, said Senate Bill 12 offers solutions to specific problems identified during last year's hearings. It is co-authored by six senators who served on the interim subcommittee, namely, Zaffirini; Gonzalo Barrientos, D-Austin; Kim Brimer, R-Fort Worth; Robert Deuell, R-Greenville; Kyle Janek, R-Houston; and Eliot Shapleigh, D-El Paso.

Senator Steve Ogden, R-Bryan, who chairs the Finance Committee and appointed the subcommittee, also is a co-author.

"The process by which Texas negotiates, enters into and manages its contracts cries for reform," said Senator Zaffirini, vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee. "This bill focuses on improving the personnel process in state contracting to ensure taxpayers' dollars are spent not only wisely, but also ethically."

"The taxpayers of Texas deserve to know their dollars are being spent wisely. By imposing greater accountability and efficiency in state contracting, Senator Zaffirini's SB 12 provides taxpayers with the needed assurance that their hard-earned dollars are well spent," Lt. Gov. Dewhurst said. "Weeding out all forms of abuse in contracting practices is a priority for me, and I commend Senator Zaffirini for introducing necessary reform."

A bipartisan effort, SB 12 would require certified contracting staff, prohibit the negotiation of a contract solely by a single employee and strengthen the ethical requirements for state employees involved at all levels of the contracting process.

The bill would also create uniform terminology to improve the reporting process for contracts, ensure that Texas gets comparable agreements for similar products or services across state agencies and require contractors to disclose all potential conflicts of interest to an agency when submitting a proposal for consideration.

"My Senate colleagues and I are committed to enhancing government efficiency, accountability and ethical standards in the state's contracting practices," said Senator Zaffirini. "Under the leadership of Lt. Gov. Dewhurst, I am confident we can pass SB 12 and accomplish our goals."

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