Comm. Craddick Thanks Texas Legislature for Funding Railroad Commission $24.7 Million IT Overhaul
AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick today thanked the Texas Legislature for approving funding for the Railroad Commission in the state’s budget bills Sunday, pending the Governor’s signature into law. This funding includes $24.7 million that will assist in overhauling the Commission’s Information Technology (IT) department that is long overdue, Craddick said.
“One of the Railroad Commission’s top priorities this session has been to secure funding for the development and initiation of IT modernization efforts,” Craddick said. “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.
“It is well known that this agency’s IT program is considerably behind current technology,” Craddick said. “We regulate an industry that is constantly evolving and is one of the most technologically advanced industries in the world. In fact, that technology is driving the immense growth in energy production we are seeing today. However, with the current status of our agency’s IT department, the Commission is struggling to keep pace with growth in an industry that is a key factor responsible for the strength of the Texas economy.”
Attracting billions of investment dollars to the state from around the world, the Texas energy industry has created more than 427,000 Texas jobs and paid just over $12 billion in state taxes last year. Commission staff reviewed almost 30,000 applications for drilling permits and oversaw the production of 1.5 million barrels of oil a day, Craddick said.
“As this energy revolution unfolds, it is vital that the Railroad Commission remain a leader in energy regulation. And the plans for the proposed IT modernization effort are a necessary step forward for that purpose.” Craddick said.
The IT overhaul 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.