| Home | General Information | Staff | Bill Analysis | SRC Publications | TxAccess |

Senate Interim Committee on Finance

Charge

Evaluate the impact on Texas government finance resulting from proposed changes in federal funding mechanisms and make recommendations to implement changed funding mechanisms.

Recommendations

  • The legislature should accurately assess the impact of the federal welfare reform legislation on the state, have the Interagency Workgroup on Welfare Reform continue to work with state agency CEOs to provide the most current information available on actions the state must take in response to the federal legislation, and have state agencies be prepared to project the possible impact on the state to the year 2002.

  • The interagency workgroups should continue to monitor federal action on Medicaid reform so that the legislature and state agencies may respond promptly and effectively to any changes in federal law.

  • The Office of State-Federal Relations, in connection with the Legislative Budget Board (LBB) and other state agency representatives in Washington, should focus its efforts on keeping the Texas congressional delegation informed on the impact of block grant proposals on the state.

    Charge

    Monitor implementation of tuition and student use fee increases (House Bills 815 and 1792, 74th Legislature) by higher education institutions. The committee shall issue a report identifying the impacts and uses of tuition and student use fee increases.

    Recommendation

  • Direct the Higher Education Coordinating Board, in consultation with the Texas Education Agency, the LBB, and the Office of the State Comptroller, to identify the impacts and uses of tuition and student use fee increases in relation to college entrance/admittance and retention.

    Charge

    Evaluate use of emerging telecommunication infrastructure for efficiencies in collection and disbursement of state funds and evaluate the impact of technology and its effect on the demand for state appropriations.

    Recommendations

  • Reexamine the competing roles of the Department of Information Resources (DIR) and the General Services Commission (GSC) in the oversight, planning, and operations of technology and telecommunications, and consolidate statewide telecommunications networks and operations.

  • Keep information technology oversight functions independent of technology and telecommunication operations or services. Oversight should not be conducted by an agency also responsible for the provision of technology or telecommunications services.

  • Require DIR to submit a copy of each agency's biennial operating plan, upon review, to the LBB.

  • Require DIR to provide summary information on agencies' biennial operating plans and budget requests as they relate to information resource planning and implementation. This information should be reported as needed to the LBB and the Governor's Office of Budget and Planning (GOBP) to assist in the review of a project and the potential impact on the agency's overall objectives and strategies.

  • Require DIR to report to the LBB and the GOBP as needed on the failure of an agency to submit a biennial operating plan or agency strategic plan; any plan amendment disapproved by DIR; any substantive changes to an agency's strategic plan or biennial operating plan; and any activity jeopardizing the viability of a project and the potential impact on the agency's overall objectives and strategies.

  • Allocate additional funds to DIR and the State Auditor's Office (SAO) to increase the level of monitoring and number of major information technology projects subject to Quality Assurance Team review.

  • Recommend requiring the annual report prepared by an agency under the Internal Auditor Act to include annual audits of certain major information technology projects.

  • Require specific outcome performance measures for major information technology projects in an agency's Legislative Appropriations Request. Project outcome measures should be linked to an agency's overall objectives and strategies.

  • Recommend developing standard cost accounting methods to be used in the budgeting, planning and implementation of all information technology projects.

  • Modify current law to recognize digital signatures as verification for electronic messages.

  • Modify current law to allow video conferences to meet open meetings requirements.
    Supplemental Charge

    Identify instances of excess appropriations and monitor forecasted unexpended balances of fiscal year 1996 appropriations, evaluating the reasons for such balances. This inquiry should focus on the major projected unexpended balances such as those at the Texas Department of Health, Texas Department of Human Services, and Texas Department of Criminal Justice, including managed health cost for inmates.
    Recommendations

    The committee did not make recommendations regarding this charge but did identify forecasted general revenue unexpended balances for 13 state agencies totaling $972.6 million. The committee also provided reasons for the balances.
    Charge

    Evaluate for the period from 1986 to present the caseload, enrollment, and population estimating methodologies used by state agencies and institutions to form the basis of their legislative appropriation requests and make recommendations to improve those methodologies and allow the legislature to make interim adjustments in appropriations based on inaccurate estimates.
    Recommendations

    HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICE AGENCIES

  • Create a contingency fund to cover any deficiencies that occur in state agency funding due to actual caseloads being greater than those forecast during the appropriations process.

  • Continue the improvements made last session in having the Health and Human Services Commission coordinate, approve, and publish quarterly caseload estimates for all health and human services programs.

  • Continue the Health and Human Services Commission's integrated database network (IDBN) for the next two years.

  • Require and fund the Health and Human Services Commission to conduct surveys that will provide more specific information about why people leave services or fail to seek services.

  • Encourage the health and human service agencies to evaluate the forecasting value of econometric indicators.

    PUBLIC SCHOOL ENROLLMENT

  • Transfer the responsibility of providing average daily attendance estimates to the Foundation School Fund Budget Committee and the legislature from TEA to the LBB.

  • Authorize the LBB to hire or contract with a demographer to enhance existing pupil projection capabilities.

    TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE

  • Continue TDCJ's Reengineering Project currently under way to transform the agency's operation, structure, and technology.

    ALL AGENCIES

  • Ensure that all the agencies involved in the projection process are using the same data collection and measurement techniques.
    Charge

    Monitor assessment of agency performance as identified by the Legislative Budget Board staff for major agencies and institutions and recommend ways to further enhance the state's performance-based budgeting system, including enhanced use of rewards for compliance and sanctions for noncompliance with established performance measures, such as those establishing graduation rates and target employment caps.
    Recommendation

  • Consider, legislatively, whether the current level of sophistication of Texas' performance-based budgeting is adequate to begin developing a rewards/penalty system based on these indicators. The legislature should look at all performance measures on an agency-by-agency basis in determining the level of sophistication.