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W. Gardner Selby
By W. Gardner Selby November 12, 2012

Lawmakers declined to create statewide inspector general

In January 2010, Gov. Rick Perry called for lawmakers to establish a statewide inspector general to maximize cost efficiency and effectiveness at state agencies.

In a Jan. 6, 2010, press release, Perry"s office said an inspector general "would establish uniform accountability standards and ensure that policies and procedures are followed at agencies statewide.” And at a press conference that day touting the prospect, Perry said the inspector general's office at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission had saved the agency more than $4.6 billion while completing more than 420,000 investigations.

Perry revisited his promise in his Feb. 8, 2011, State of the State address to state lawmakers, saying: "We should follow the lead of HHSC, whose inspector general has saved the state more than $5.3 billion since its creation in 2004. Applied across all state agencies and departments, these practices could significantly reduce wasteful spending and save taxpayers' money. A state Inspector General would work directly with the agencies, enhancing the state auditor's efforts and improving efficiencies.”

And?

No government-wide office was created, though legislators offered proposals providing for inspector generals at individual agencies and one agency ended up with one.

An unsuccessful proposal named the Texas Inspector General Act, authored by state Rep. Linda Harper-Brown, R-Irving, and two colleagues would have required inspector generals at agencies including the Texas Youth Commission, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of Transportation and Texas Education Agency.

Notably, though, Harper-Brown"s accompanying bill analysis hints at resistance to an inspector general watching all of state government because the long-existent state auditor"s office performs similar duties: "Establishing a statewide office of inspector general could duplicate, and potentially conflict with, the legislative oversight functions performed by the” state auditor, the analysis says. "Likewise, requiring all state agencies to implement an office of inspector general would unnecessarily expand their size and associated costs, while effectively duplicating the oversight function provided already by the” state auditor.

House Bill 2675, also offered by Harper-Brown, called for an inspector general for the Texas Department of Transportation, but did not pass into law. Separately, though, Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, advanced HB 3099, creating an inspector general at the Department of Public Safety, into law.

We rate this Promise as Broken.

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