Texas-size report pushes e-gov

Texas taxpayers could save as much as $1.2 billion over the next two years if the state reforms and streamlines government services - including doing more business over the Internet — according to a new public/private report released by the state comptroller's office.

The report was developed by the e-Texas Commission, a 14-member committee formed by Carole Keeton Rylander, the comptroller of public accounts, an elected position.

The lengthy report (more than 1,100 pages) is wide-ranging, but its focus is on e-government and how technology can transform service and save money.

Technology-related recommendations include:

* Creating an "e-Texas University" to deliver the state's core curriculum via the Internet and other distance-learning methods. It would become a clearinghouse for online courses and degrees offered by the state's other colleges and universities.

* Requiring certain regulatory agencies to offer online occupational and professional licensing services through the state portal, expanding online vehicle registration and creating a one-stop online service for new businesses in Texas.

* Developing an Internet-based procurement system in which state agencies, local governments and school districts can combine purchasing power to save money and use employee time more efficiently when shopping for goods and services.

* Expand the use of telemedicine to provide cost-effective care to children with special health care needs, including developing policies allowing for reimbursement of such usage.

Overall, the report makes 305 recommendations and proposes 129 statutory changes but does not recommend any new fees or tax increases.

The report covers secondary and higher education, the environment, public safety and corrections, transportation, health and human services, workforce issues, human resource management, financial management and e-government.

Not all of the recommendations are related to technology. For example, the report recommends better salaries and benefits for teachers, encourages cleanup of abandoned and contaminated industrial or commercial sites, and advocates strengthening drunken driving laws.

Rylander's report, released late last year, comes at the heels of another state government study last October advocating greater usage of technology in government. State lawmakers are expected to act on several recommendations.

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