AUSTIN – The Texas House will soon release a budget proposal that significantly strengthens oversight of state agency contracts, Speaker Joe Straus announced Friday.
The budget that the House will file in the coming weeks will require an agency or institution of higher education that wants to award a contract, or make a purchase, worth more than $10 million to meet several new reporting requirements. The requirements will also apply to contracts and purchases that are worth more than $1 million and do not go through a competitive bidding process.
The agency issuing the contract would have to notify the Legislative Budget Board, Governor, State Auditor, chair of the House Appropriations Committee, chair of the Senate Finance Committee and chairs of any other committees with jurisdiction over contracting at least 30 days prior to the expenditure. With that notice, the agency would also be required to provide:
• Information about the nature of the contract and the vendor awarded it.
• A certification by the agency’s executive director that the process used to award the contract or make the purchase complies with the state’s Contract Management Guide, State of Texas Procurement Manual and all applicable laws. If the process did not comply with those measures, the agency would be required to explain what alternate process was used, the legal justification for using that process and the individual directing the use of the alternate process.
• A certification by the agency’s executive director that the agency can verify vendor performance and deliverables, payment of goods and services only within the scope of the contract, and other information.
Importantly, the House budget will make clear that the state Comptroller should not allow the expenditure of funds if the Legislative Budget Board says the requirements listed above have not been met.
“As legislators, we are stewards of taxpayer dollars,” said Speaker Straus, San Antonio. “We have a responsibility to see that state agencies use public resources in a way that is appropriate and transparent. These reforms, combined with legislative changes, will help prevent abuses in the contracting process and make executive agencies more accountable to the Legislature and the public.”
Speaker Straus has repeatedly stressed the need for responsible stewardship. Leading up to the beginning of the 84th Legislature on Tuesday, he has called for the House to continue its commitment to fiscal discipline, to budget transparency and to greater accountability in the way agencies use taxpayer dollars.