For the first time in the agency’s storied history, at the direction of Commissioner Bush, the agency has a Director of Open Government. This director responds promptly to all requests for information from the GLO under the Texas Public Information Act, letting citizens and media know what their government is doing, and why. This director has overhauled the agency’s standards development and employee training to ensure we uphold the highest standards of transparency within government.
Commissioner Bush eliminated no-bid contracts in nearly all circumstances. No-bid contracts are the opposite of transparent, open, and fair government. Commissioner Bush directed the GLO to solicit bids on projects even when not required by law. By doing so the agency goes above and beyond what is legally required of government and increases the trust Texans have in their government.
Commissioner Bush created a contracting compliance and ethics division. This division ensures fair and honest practices. Just as important as what we do, is how we do it. The GLO is making government efficiency and transparency a major hallmark of our work and the Office of Compliance and Ethics is a big part of that effort. The Office of Compliance and Ethics is responsible for monitoring our contracting processes to ensure transactions are accomplished cleanly and fairly across the agency. It is also responsible for making sure we are pursuing new opportunities with Historically Underutilized Businesses. The division reports directly to Commissioner Bush and senior agency management on all matters of compliance that touch on GLO operations. It is the kind of internal control needed in government.
Commissioner Bush ordered the General Land Office to implement zero-based budgeting. Zero-based budgeting requires government to work the same way as Texas households. We have to build our budget from the ground up and justify every dollar we spend even if it means making do with less. Under the old system of baseline budgeting, big government had every excuse to get bigger, taking what was spent in the prior year or two and increasing it by a few percentage points. Baseline budgeting creates monster government, keeping government growing, spending, and violating the control we have over our own lives. Because of baseline budgeting, government devours more of our economy and costs taxpayers more.
Thanks to zero-based budgeting, the Land Office is becoming a better steward of Texans’ tax dollars.
Commissioner Bush ordered the launch of the HUB Reporting Project. Commissioner Bush thinks doing business with veteran, woman, and minority-owned businesses makes good sense. Accordingly, he directed several departments in the GLO to collaborate on a project to improve the Historically Underutilized Business Program at the agency. This effort is expected to produce improved alignment with state regulations by revamping the business processes and technology systems that drive HUB purchasing at the GLO.
Commissioner Bush believes in breaking down both silos of information and the top-down structure of government agencies. That’s why he brought team of teams management, pioneered by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, USA (ret.), to the GLO. Team of teams management empowers staff with decision making responsibilities and opportunities traditionally reserved for those in managerial roles. Now, the men and women in front-line roles at the GLO have the ability to immediately respond and react to whatever may call for quick decisions. By implementing the team of teams approach, Commissioner Bush has brought 21st century management strategies to the agency in what is an increasingly networked, fast-moving world.
Commissioner Bush entered into a first of its kind agreement with the federal government to develop a plan to better protect the Texas coast from storms, and to speed up recovery after disaster strikes. The agreement between the GLO and the Army Corps of Engineers begins the process of developing the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Feasibility study. The study will investigate the feasibility of projects for flood reduction, hurricane and storm damage mitigation, and ecosystem restoration along the entire Texas coast. Commissioner Bush believes in shrinking government’s authority, its reach into our lives and its footprint in our economy. He has already made the agency leaner by combining the GLO’s Coastal Resources Division and Disaster Recovery Division, ensuring the agency is better able to plan ahead before a storm hits and recover more quickly afterward. Working closely with the Oil Spill Prevention and Response Division, the Coastal Resiliency and Recovery Program is making the GLO’s coastal defense efforts better than ever.
Commissioner Bush led a multi-agency, state and federal effort to rebuild the southeast Texas coast. This effort to protect High Island’s McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge will prevent saltwater intrusion into sensitive estuarial systems, preserving the natural habitat, benefitting hunting and fishing, and helping to ensure the Intracoastal Waterway remains unimpeded for commercial and recreational use.