“Including this one…”

Great moments in headline writing: State report says Texas has too many reports. You can live a long time before getting a meatball like that.

Now, it’s very easy to note a story like this and go into full-on snark mode, but before you get your Dave Barry on, the Report Of All Reports actually makes a pretty salient point:

In the past, the state regularly compiled a list of about 400 reports that agencies were required by the Legislature to produce. But the commission found more than 1,600, and state records administrator Michael Heskett is pretty sure his team hasn’t found them all.

Heskett’s initial findings indicate more than 400 report requirements are obsolete, duplicative or not needed as frequently as currently required.

“At first, we were overwhelmed by the sheer number of reporting requirements,” Heskett said. “We haven’t begun our evaluation yet. But I think we can reach our goal of eliminating the deadwood without compromising the need for accountability in our state agencies.”

Agencies stand to save thousands of staff hours and tons of paper, although the commission hasn’t estimated yet exactly how much of either, Heskett said.

In a typical legislative session, lawmakers call for about a dozen new reports to meet the requirements for a new law. Another 20 or so reports are attached to appropriations bills as a way of making sure allocated money is properly spent.

Unless these reports are repealed by the Legislature, agencies are required to prepare them, even if the need for the report — or the agency — no longer exists.

Seems like a pretty clear opportunity for the Lege to do some good and save some money in a fairly painless fashion. I’m not sure what the relevant committee for this would be, but I hope it has a proactive chair next session. Let’s keep an eye on it.

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