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years ago a middle-echelon Parks and Wildlife employee suggested to his boss that the department cut the request for a certain program out of its budget for the next biennium since the program obviously wasn’t worth a damn. It wasn’t doing what it had been intended to do and, in fact, wasn’t working at all. The employee was told by his superior to forget the idea. He was told that every . two years the e department asked for exactly what it had been given the previous biennium plus a 10 percent increase. Given inflation, perhaps 5 percent a year is a reasonable raise. But not if it goes to the dud programs and the deserving equally. MOST STATE agencies have finance departments assigned to draw up their budget requests. All agency heads tend to blather about their “realistic” requests “no fat” is the agency equivalent of the classic legislative lie about “no pride of authorship.” It may be ask only for what they honestly think is absolutely necessary. But it is infinitely more likely that they follow the standard bureaucratic procedure of asking for the moon and hoping to settle for Chase Manhattan. The agency finance departments produce charts, graphs and slides galore designed to dupe the credulous into believing that Nowhere State College needs more money than UT. Charts, graphs and slides are something of a sore point with most of those who try to follow the appropriations process. Plain English, they agree, would be preferable. The public relations departments of state agencies have been known to become hyper-active around budget time. They get the word to hype this program or plug that one. A few newspaper stories, maybe even a television take-out on the wonders being performed for the citizenry by Agency Such and Such never hurt at budget time. The L.B.B. examiners are not without their own weapons in the face of the char t-graph.-slide, p.r.-hype, Parkinson’s-Law tricks of the agencies. If Bill Wells were not such a nice fellow, one would suspect him of being a cynic. He says of state agencies, “If you want action, go to the top: if you want program evaluation, go to the middle: if you want dirt, go to the bottom.” The dirt level is particularly rich in Austin. “You know how state employees watch each other and compare,” said Wells. Indeed they do. In some places of employment, it is considered bad form to ever show your paycheck to anyone else, to talk about how much you are paid or to ask anyone else how much he or she is paid. Not so in state agencies. Much, much coffee break gossip concerns who is in Group 8, who just made it to Group 17 and whether the contours of so-and-so’s secretary’s rear had anything to do with her promotion. A Caldwellian representation of the appropriations chairman, circa 1970. Examiners can, and sometimes do, work on all three levels in trying to find out what’s going on in state agencies. The questions about examiners basically come down to whether they can and whether they do. The kindest and most self-evident explanation is that examiners are too over-loaded to really dig into the agencies assigned to them. But their critics charge them with more serious sins. They claim the examiners’ hearings are superficial, a farce, not only because the examiners are too harassed to go into detail but also because they don’t want to. Causational theories are numerous. The examiners are pawns of the agencies. The examiners are pawns left from the Heatly era. The examiners are fascists. The examiners are zombies in the land of the living dead. The examiners are dumasses. Poor examiners. No matter what those who are trying to find out more about how much is being spent for what say about the examiners, it will never achieve the sheer vitriol of the abuse heaped on the examiners by agency folk, who think they’ve been done in by cheese-paring, penny-pinching, baloney-slicing, mean-minded no-goods. Under the circumstances, it might be best if all examiners were zombies. Wells says that when an examiner is first assigned an agency he may go through the vouchers to familiarize himself with the purchasing and payroll patterns of the agency. Once an examiner knows the agency’s patterns, he can pretty well figure what the agency will ask for and need the next biennium and will only look for gross discrepancies. What can be found in the vouchers is stuff to ask questions about. For example, state voucher No. 1064, fiscal 1973, shows that the Texas Water Rights Commission purchased at state expense one hair dryer from A & A Appliances, 5200 Burnet Road, Austin, delivered 9/27/72 for $12.99. There may be some reason why the Texas Water Rights Commission may legitimately need a hair dryer. Maybe Dorsey Hardeman knows: he signed the voucher. But the examiner doesn’t know why it was news to him. Clearly an unaccounted-for $12.99 is not going to break the state, nor will a whole lot of unaccounted-for $12.99’s. Lyndon’s turning off the lights at night in the White House while letting the Pentagon budget run amok did not save us from inflation. But one suspects that there is some kinship in principle between the hair-dryer and Caldwell’s pointing mournfully to another “$14 million for `other and operating.’ We have no way to know if they’re justified or not.” OF THE other watchdog agencies, the comptroller’s office gets moderate praise from some and a “They try, in their fashion” from others. But all parties seem to be agreed that the state auditor’s office, run by George McNiel, is a helpful outfit. But even there, there are frequent complaints about the lack of depth, lack of thoroughness, lack of follow-through. Just a minor example: suppose you were whipping through the auditor’s report on the Board of Pharmacy and found therein, “C. Dean Davis continues to act as the Board’s counsel at $275 a month plus travel expenses.” This would be of no particular interest to you unless you happened to be carrying around in your head the information that C. Dean Davis is one of the approximately 600 lobbyists already registered so far this session \(about 2,000 are expected to register before it’s lobbyist the Texas Pharmaceutical Association, the Texas Hospital Association and the Texas Association of Health Underwriters. There are at least 13 other similar situations involving lobbyists working for the state in fairly high positions. This information was dug out by Bill Aleshire, intrepid researcher, who is studying appropriations for several House members. McNiel’s position is that his job does not call for him to be a prosecutor or even a critic: he’s just supposed to report what he finds in his audits. Wells says that the examiners have been able to “straighten out some bad operations” when they notice peculiar vouchers or some other signs of untowardness. But at this point, the problem seems to be not so much the untowardness as the fact that nobody knows what’s happening. One member of the appropriations committee said, “These boring m-f’s just overwhelm us with information. The Texas Education Agency testified for two hours this morning and I didn’t get a thing out of it. The T.E.A. will spend two and a half March 16, 1973 5