Shortly after Hurricane Harvey ravaged the Texas coast in 2017, Governor Abbott asked me to lead TDI. It was a challenging time, but it was an honor to serve.
As I look back, I’m a bit surprised that my short-term assignment turned into a three-year mission. But the agency’s work touches almost every Texan, and I had staff willing to roll up their sleeves and improve our corner of government. I’m grateful for their hard work and commitment to public service.
Today the agency answers calls, issues licenses, and resolves consumer complaints dramatically faster. We’ve reduced our reliance on paper, streamlined rule development, and undergone major organizational restructuring. We just launched an artificial intelligence project that holds the promise of transforming policy form reviews for Texas and other states. And we transitioned most of our employees to telecommuting status over a single weekend without missing a beat.
I have a basic belief that government should work for people. It should focus on delivering essential services – and doing it effectively. It should be less risk-adverse and more willing to adopt new technology and proven best practices. It should not rest on its monopoly status and instead measure itself against the best of the private sector to make sure it’s fulfilling its duty to provide the highest level of service to citizens.
I’m proud of the improvements we’ve made. TDI staff – at every level of the agency – deserve the credit. During my time at the agency, I occasionally invited small groups of employees to my office for coffee and a chance to tell me directly how we could do better. I met with the employees who had been at the agency the longest, our newest employees, staff in our call centers, our frontline managers. They all embraced change. They all wanted technology and modern systems to help them provide better service. They made improvement possible.
As I leave TDI to return to the private sector, I want to thank all of you – those in the industry, the stakeholders who push us to do better, and most importantly the Texans who count on us – for making this an enjoyable and meaningful three years.
All the best.
Very truly yours,
Q&A with the commissioner: After three years at TDI, what advice does Commissioner Sullivan have for Texans? That’s one of the questions we asked in a recent interview.
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