The idea is to cut excess government spending by holding state agencies accountable. Recommendations by Sunset typically aim to eliminate wasteful programs, or programs that serve similar functions in multiple agencies. Sunset identifies structural and execution issues within the agency and then drafts a series of proposals on how the problems can be remedied. If adopted, the proposals will change how the agency is run according to the recommendations of the Sunset staff.
The Commission, made up of 5 Texas House Members, 5 Senators, and 2 members of the public, is appointed by the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House of Representatives (The Vice-Chair of the current Commission is Representative Four Price of Amarillo).
The importance of the commission can not be overstated, as any agency under review is automatically abolished, unless the Legislature decides to pass a Sunset bill of reforms that would continue the agency’s existence or merge them with others. For instance, the Texas Department of Health, Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Texas Health Care Information Council, and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation were all eliminated after a Sunset review in 2003 and functions were streamlined under the Department of State Health Services. The Sunset process has shut down 79 Texas agencies since 1977 and shows a return of $29 for every dollar spent on the reviews themselves.
Currently, all health and human service agencies are under Sunset review. Sunset Staff Reports have just been released on DADS, DARS, DFPS, and DSHS. I would encourage persons working for any agency that contracts with a State of Texas agency to learn about this process.
And thank you Representative Price for serving on this Commission!