AUSTIN – The Texas Senate today approved SB 65, authored by Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, responding to the continued failure of state agencies to follow laws and procedures on state contracting.
"Senate Bill 65 addresses serious breakdowns in procurement and contract oversight across state government," Senator Nelson said. "We have to hold agencies accountable and make sure that taxpayer dollars are not being misused."
Specifically, this bill:
- Requires the use of a checklist to ensure each procurement has proper documentation;
- Prescribes more frequent updating of the Vendor Performance Tracking System so that agencies have the appropriate feedback prior to awarding additional projects to the same vendor;
- Requires additional sign-offs during the scoring process -- which was an issue at the Health and Human Services Commission -- and mandates additional justification if the scores are subsequently changed;
- Streamlines the role of the Quality Assurance Team and codifies related riders;
- Increases the threshold for the Quality Assurance Team review from $1 Million to $5 Million to better focus our resources;
- Moves the Quality Assurance Team from a "suggest and approve" model to a "review and justify" model, where agencies will be forced to justify any deviation from Team recommendation;
- Allows the State Auditor's Office to tailor the level of monitoring to the performance of the agency and complexity of the contract to make best use of procurement resources;
- Removes the Teacher Retirement System's exemption from state procurement laws to increase transparency and accountability in their procurement process; and
- Requires that future contract re-assignments involving our most serious and confidential data will include notification of LBB and sign off by the Quality Assurance Team.
The bill now goes to the House for consideration.
SENATOR JANE NELSON represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.