‘It Really Feels Like High School’: Inside A Dysfunctional Billion-Dollar State Agency

A Texas Tribune investigation went behind the scenes at a commission that’s destroying its own records.

By Texas StandardDecember 19, 2017 7:22 am| , ,

“Poison is in the water” – that’s how one member of the Texas Facilities Commission described the agency in internal documents provided to the Texas Tribune. The commission is headed by former State Rep. Harvey Hilderbran and is responsible for maintaining over 100 state agencies, and overseeing the construction of new ones.

The Tribune’s Jay Root writes that the agency has been “gripped by internal dysfunction, complaints of special treatment and fears that major building initiatives are falling prey to petty squabbles.”

Lately, the board’s dysfunction has spilled over into the public eye. The commission was recently in the news after a massive rat infestation was discovered at the State’s Health and Human Services headquarters.

“One of the problems there was the Health and Human Services Commission had to hire their own pest control because the Texas Facilities Commission, which normally does this thing, apparently hadn’t taken care of the rat problem,” Root says.

Root says a source called him out of the blue and suggested that he give the agency a closer look.

“The way the tip came to me was that I heard that they were destroying recordings of their meetings,” he says.

He says the commission destroys recordings after 90 days. When he decided to investigate, he dug through the remaining recordings and found a lot of strife among the bitterly divided board.

“It really feels like high school, honestly, or maybe middle school,” he says. “It would be funny, possibly, or not all that important, except for the fact that this is a billion dollar agency.”

 

Written by Jen Rice.