The Railroad Commission of Texas got a reprieve in the final minutes of the 83rd legislative session as the agency’s life was extended for another four years. Legislation to reform and continue the agency failed earlier in the session.
The agency that regulate oil and gas drilling and production in Texas also received approval for an information technology modernization program.
“One of the Railroad Commission’s top priorities this session has been to secure funding for the development and initiation of IT modernization efforts,” said Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick. “In response to requests for greater access to information housed by the agency, plans for the IT renovation will allow for improved efficiency, effectiveness and transparency within the Commission and make information more readily available to the public.
The IT funding of $24.7 million will include items for Geographical Information System (GIS) upgrades that will aid IT overhaul initiatives. Additionally, the IT overhaul funding is part of a total of $33 million in state budget funding for the Railroad Commission that will provide for a Data Center Services (DCS) cost increase, and provide for salary parity for oil and gas division employees, additional pipeline safety inspectors and general counsel enforcement employees to further address current industry growth. The $24.7 million funding the Commission’s IT modernization program will provide improvements including: •Revising outdated manual processes to obtain process efficiency; •Developing integrated web-based applications that enable filing or exchange data; •Integrating additional online filings with revenue or fee collection; •Commission website redesign based on stakeholder input; •Consolidating the compliant, inspection, violation, enforcement, and docket tracking processes and systems; •Developing integrated web-based applications that enhance internal business (permitting) efficiency; •Providing Commission stakeholders (industry, public, interest groups) efficient access to timely and accurate data; •Minimizing dependence on mainframe systems; and •Developing applications that can take advantage of mobile technologies in the future.