The Sunset Advisory Commission has published the Special Purpose Review of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The Summary from the report and an overview of the recommendations are below.

Summary –

The special purpose review of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) is a follow up on the full Sunset review of the Department conducted in 2008. At that time, the Sunset Commission adopted and forwarded recommendations on TxDOT to the 81st Legislature. However, the Legislature did not pass the Department’s Sunset bill. Instead, the Legislature continued the Department for two years in separate legislation and focused the current Sunset staff review on the appropriateness of the recommendations voted on and adopted by the Sunset Commission in 2008.

At the time of its 2008 Sunset review, TxDOT did not enjoy a high level of confidence among the public and members of the Legislature. The Sunset Commission adopted a series of recommendations aimed at changing the culture of the agency and imposing high-level oversight to help ensure real change. While TxDOT has worked diligently to address many of the Sunset Commission’s recommendations, more time is needed to judge the depth and effect of the changes before trust and confidence in the agency can be restored. Several of the Sunset Commission’s 2008 recommendations need legislative action to authorize their implementation and to ensure TxDOT’s progress is lasting. Of the 60 recommendations on TxDOT from 2008, Sunset staff recommends 25 for consideration again in 2010.

Staff is not proposing the 10 recommendations concerning motor vehicle functions because separate legislation transferred most motor vehicle functions from TxDOT to a newly created Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. These statutory and management recommendations will be re-evaluated as part of the Sunset review of the Department of Motor Vehicles in 2015. Also no longer recommended is the requirement for the Department to establish a Rail Transportation Division, as the Department established this Division in November 2009. The recommendation related to Comprehensive Development Agreements is not included because TxDOT’s authority for these agreements expires August 31, 2011 and will likely be discussed more fully during the upcoming legislative session. Finally, staff is not proposing the previous management recommendations, most of which have been implemented, and two recommendations to legislative committees that have been fulfilled. The chart, Status of 2008 Sunset Commission Recommendations on the Texas Department of Transportation, on page 7 shows the current status of each of the Sunset Commission’s previous TxDOT-related recommendations.

The following material summarizes the 2008 recommendations on TxDOT that continue to be appropriate for consideration in 2010.

Summary of Issues/Recommendations:

  1. Until Trust in the Texas Department of Transportation Is Restored, the State Cannot Move Forward to Effectively Meet Its Growing Transportation Needs
  2. TxDOT’s Internal Controls Are Not Adequate to Ensure the Transparency and Accountability Necessary to Maintain Public Trust and Confidence
  3. The State’s Complicated Transportation Planning and Project Development Process Frustrates Understanding of How Important Decisions Are Made
  4. TxDOT Does Not Meet the High Expectations Placed on It to Ensure Consistent, Unbiased, and Meaningful Public Involvement
  5. State Statute Unnecessarily Restricts Contracting Practices Available to TxDOT
  6. TxDOT’s Motor Vehicle Functions Do Not Fit Within Its Core Mission to Plan, Build, and Maintain the State’s Transportation System
  7. More Information Is Needed to Improve Regulation of Oversize and Overweight Vehicles to Prevent Damage to Roads and Bridges
  8. Key Elements of TxDOT’s Regulation of Motor Vehicle Dealers, Salvage Vehicle Dealers, and Household Goods Carriers Do Not Conform to Commonly Applied Licensing Practices
  9. The State’s Overall Approach to Outdoor Advertising Does Not Follow Common Licensing Practices, Reducing the Effectiveness of Regulation

10.  TxDOT Does Not Provide Adequate Attention to Rail Transportation Issues

11.  Unmanaged Dynamic Message Signs May Affect TxDOT’s Ability to Ease Traffic Flows

12.  Statutory Direction Is Necessary to Ensure Continued Implementation of the Green Ribbon Project

13.  Lack of Comprehensive Information About TxDOT’s Use of Propane May Affect Decisions Regarding Its Alternative Fuel Vehicle Fleet

The complete report can be viewed at the following: