The 84th legislative session ended on June 1, 2015. See the bills that have become law.

Reforming contracting and procurement

Curated by Aman Batheja and Ross Ramsey

Legislative scrutiny of state contracts with private companies increased this session, spurred by investigations of such agreements in agencies like the Health and Human Services Commission and the Department of Public Safety.

Texas lawmakers vowed this session to beef up oversight of billions in state contracts. And while several bills on the issue were filed, attention boiled down to a few measures. Lawmakers have labeled the legislation as a first step in a process that will continue in 2017.

Legislation passed first by the Senate and then the House would continue to require agencies to better evaluate how vendors perform and ban those with a history of poor ratings. It would also require agencies to shop around when making purchases of $50,000 or more through the Texas Department of Information Resources Cooperative Contracts program, a centralized list of approved state vendors that HHSC used to hire 21CT.  

The House passed legislation intended to create a contract management team at the Legislative Budget Board that would review contracts worth more than $10 million and those valued at less than $10 million that have “high-risk” factors such as those with agencies that have had recent contracting problems. The bill also empowered the team to recommend to the governor and comptroller that troubled contracts be canceled. While the legislation didn't get final passage, its author, state Rep. John Otto, managed to include most of the bill's contents in a provision of the approved budget.

Updated: June 1, 2015

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The Texas Legislative Guide was designed and developed by Becca Aaronson, Emily Albracht, Daniel Craigmile, Annie Daniel, Ben Hasson and Ryan Murphy for The Texas Tribune. The Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that promotes civic engagement and discourse on public policy, politics, government and other matters of statewide concern.