Government 2306

Government and Politics in the Lone Star State

Tenth Edition

Chapter 7

The Texas Bureaucracy and Policy Implementation

Learning Objectives

7.1 Discuss the essential features of the bureaucratic systems in Texas.

7.2 Assess the dynamics of policy implementation by state bureaucrats in Texas.

7.3 Describe policies utilized by the Texas legislature to control the actions of state agencies and public employees.

7.4 Summarize strategies available to citizens to impact or influence the actions of public employees.

7.5 Differentiate among the personnel systems used by the state and local governments in Texas.

Bureaucratic Systems in Texas (1 of 5)

The Characteristics of the Texas Bureaucracy

Max Weber

Bureaucracies organize large numbers of people to carry out tasks for achieving goals.

Characteristics of bureaucracies include

Size of an organization

Size of the budget

Division of labor and a hierarchy authority structure

Emphasis on specialization and expertise

Elaborate rules and standard operating procedures

Impersonal relationships with functions of positions

Bureaucratic Systems in Texas (2 of 5)

Replacing an Aging Workforce

Turnover rate for state employees in 2015 was over 18 percent with many of those leaving under thirty, the group needed to replace an aging workforce.

Two reasons: Dissatisfaction with wages and working conditions

Bureaucratic Systems in Texas (3 of 5)

An Expanding Government Workforce

Expansion of programs and state spending

$98.1 billion in 2000–2001

$209 billion in 2016–2017

In 2015, the state spent approximately $4,200 per person, ranking among the lowest five states in terms of per capita expenditures.

Bureaucratic Systems in Texas (4 of 5)

An Expanding Government Workforce

The number of full-time state and local employees has grown from 504,000 in 1972 to 1.4 million in 2012.

Local governments have more workers per capita because they are responsible for a wide range of services, including public schools.

85 percent of state government employees work in higher education, public safety and corrections, and social services.

Bureaucratic Systems in Texas (5 of 5)

Privatization of Public Services

State and many local governments contract with private companies to provide some public services like garbage collection and highway construction.

Supporters say it can reduce costs by promoting efficiency.

Critics argue that savings come from paying workers less and not providing benefits.

Are Toll Roads the Solution?

Over the past few decades, public officials, community leaders, the construction industry, and transportation planners enthusiastically pushed for toll roads to address the ever-increasing congestion on Texas highways. By 2015, some 800 miles of toll roads had been constructed. Political reaction to toll roads began to mount when Texans expressed outrage in 2009 with Governor Rick Perry’s Trans Texas Corridor proposals, and it increased as the collection of tolls became problematic and the private company that built SH 130 declared bankruptcy in 2016. Seen here is the Sam Houston Tollway Plaza on Route 8 in Houston.


Table 7-1 Employment by Type of Government, 1972-2012

Unit of Government Full-Time Equivalent Employees 1972 Full-Time Equivalent Employees 1982 Full-Time Equivalent Employees 1992 Full-Time Equivalent Employees 2002 Full-Time Equivalent Employees 2012
State 124,560 175,660 238,974 269,674 310,549
Total Local 380,038 557,082 744,325 979,164 1,104,756
Counties 37,302 67,228 94,145 120,885 144,080
Municipalities 93,107 127,794 147,812 172,846 182,779
School Districts 223,646 335,855 460,212 634,589 725,630
Special Districts 25,983 26,205 42,156 50,844 52,267
Total for Texas 504,598 732,742 983,299 1,248,838 1,415,305

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Census of Governments 1972, vol. 3, no. 2, table 14; Census of Governments, 1982, vol. 3, no. 2, table 13; Census of Governments, 1992, vol. 3, no. 2, table 14; Census of Governments, 2002, vol. 3, table 9; Census of Governments, 2007; Texas Government Employment and Payroll Data, Build-a-Table,; Census of Governments, 2012.

Bureaucrats and Public Policy (1 of 3)

Policy Implementation

Conversion of policy plans into reality

Interpretation of policy

Responsibilities assigned

Rules and procedures developed

Bureaucrats and Public Policy (2 of 3)

Obstacles to Policy Implementation

Decisions by policymakers constrain bureaucratic action

Poor legislation and misdirected policies

Inadequate funding

Implementers may lack know-how or resources.

Policies produce unanticipated results.

Influence of special interests

Bureaucrats and Public Policy (3 of 3)

Appointment to State Agencies

Boards and commissions filled with people from the industries regulated by the agency

Demand for people knowledgeable of the businesses regulated

Seek to protect the industries they represent

Countered by placing more public citizens on boards and commissions

The Governor’s Appointments

Governors historically have appointed a significant number of individuals to state agencies who have contributed to their campaigns or worked in some capacity for their election. John L. Nau, III, who heads a large distributing company in Houston, served as Governor Greg Abbott’s campaign treasurer and made over $500,000 in contributions to Abbott’s numerous campaigns over the years. He has a long-held interest in history, serves on numerous boards and commissions, and was appointed by Governor Perry to chair the Texas Historical Commission (1995–2009). Governor Abbott appointed him to chair the commission a second time in 2015.


Legislative Control of the Bureaucracy (1 of 5)

Legislative Budgetary Control

Draft the budget for the legislature

Little scrutiny over effectiveness of spending

Line items restrict parts of the budget to specific programs

Legislative Control of the Bureaucracy (2 of 5)

Performance Reviews

Responsibility transferred from comptroller’s office to the Legislative Budget Board in 2003

Recommend spending cuts and ways to eliminate waste and mismanagement

Legislative Control of the Bureaucracy (3 of 5)

Sunset Legislation

Sunset Advisory Commission conducts agency reviews once every twelve years.

Review purpose and performance of agency

The following recommendations can be made:


Restructure, combine, or transfer agency functions


Table 7-4 Sunset Advisory Commission 1979 to 2015, Sixty-Sixth to Eighty-Fourth Legislative Sessions

Agencies Reviewed by Commission* Number of Agencies Blank
Total 490 Blank cell
Agencies Not Subject to Abolishment** 39 Blank cell
Agencies Subject to Abolishment 451 Blank cell
Actions Taken by Commission Number of Agencies Percentage
Agencies Continued 368 82
Agencies Abolished Outright 37 8
Agencies Abolished and Functions Transferred 46 10
* Approximately 130 agencies are subject to sunset review on a periodic basis. Some agencies have been reviewed at least three times since the process was initiated.
**These are agencies that were subject to sunset review but not abolishment, and agencies that were reviewed but then their sunset dates were removed from law.

SOURCE: Texas Sunset Advisory Commission, Final Results of Sunset Reviews, 2014–2015.

Legislative Control of the Bureaucracy (4 of 5)

The Revolving Door

Move from government employment to private business

Gain experience of and contacts within the industries regulated

Reforms in 1975 and 1991 restrict employees from moving immediately into jobs within regulated industries.

Move from private business to appointed positions on boards and commissions

Legislative Control of the Bureaucracy (5 of 5)

Whistle-Blowing Provisions

Laws prevent retaliation against agency employees who report wrongdoing.

Little protection actually offered employees

Many public workers are still intimidated by supervisors.

Lack the financial resources for legal battles with the state

Damages limited to $250,000 in lawsuits against the state.

Texas Citizens and the Bureaucracy

Follow These Rules for “Working the Bureaucracy”:

Remember you are dealing with people.

Find the right agency and the right person(s) authorized to provide solutions.

Be patient.

Be tenacious.

Know your rights and act on them.

Occasionally, you may have to be adversarial.


Governments across the state are adapting new technologies to expedite the provision of services to Texas citizens. The days of delays and lines to transact business with a government employee are being replaced with e-government and an ever-expanding reliance on computers. The Texas Department of Public Safety introduced a queue management system in its Leon Valley–San Antonio driver’s license center in 2013.


Journal 7.4

As a citizen, how do you expect to be treated by employees who work for local or state agencies? If you were treated rudely or with indifference, how would you redress your grievance?

Merit Systems and Professional Management (1 of 2)

History of Political Patronage in Texas

Jobs awarded on the basis of friendships and political loyalties.

Wide disparities in wages and salaries

Did not ensure hiring of competent or qualified employees

Factors Pushing for Reforms

Merit employment system

Federal requirements for hiring personnel

Protections against job discrimination

Merit Systems and Professional Management (2 of 2)

Current Texas System

Highly fragmented, decentralized, and not a merit-based system

Legislature sets personnel policies.

Job classifications and salary schedules

Agencies determine specific personnel practices.

Jobs listed with the Texas Workforce Commission

Shared Writing 7.5

Consider the discussion in “Attorney General Appeals $1.2M Whistleblower Verdict.” Advocates of administrative reforms have pushed tough whistle-blower laws to encourage public employees who observe illegal or unethical behavior of other employees to report such activities to agency supervisors. Although such actions frequently produce positive results, in some cases there appear to be blatant efforts at cover-up or retaliation, with dire consequences for the whistle-blower. If there is illegal activity going on in an agency, why do some administrators seem disposed to dismiss such information? How would you protect a whistle-blower from retaliation? Do you think many employees are intimidated by a real or perceived threat of retaliation if they report misconduct?

Photo Credits

Page 201: Smiley N. Pool/©Houston Chronicle. Used with permission; 204: Tucker Gibson; 210: Lisa Krantz/San Antonio Express-News/ZUMApress/Newscom; 211: D. Fahleson/©Houston Chronicle. Used with permission; 215: Merissa Ferguson/AP Images; 217: Tucker Gibson; 219: Tucker Gibson; 220: Austin Public Library