Commissioner Pct. 1
Monday - Friday
8:00 am - 5:00 pm
500 E. San Antonio
El Paso, Texas 79901
Phone (915) 546-2014
Fax (915) 543-3885
Josie Castro Garcia
Senior Policy Advisor
Transparency and Accountability
Many constituents who live in Precinct 1 have shared with me their concern about the amount of travel that is budgeted by the county. It would be easy to simply say that the travel is justified because it is for continuing education and other county business.
However, I believe that constituents who are concerned about where their tax dollars go deserve more information. Many of their questions could be addressed by simply providing the following information:
WHERE DID THEY GO;
FOR WHAT REASON;
HOW MUCH DID IT COST;
WHO PAID FOR IT.
With that in mind, my staff and I met with various department heads to put into place the Travel Disclosure Report (TDR). During the meetings, it was soon obvious that state law would make it impossible to require this of all of the county personnel who traveled. After several discussions with the Office of the County Attorney, something of a compromise was approved.
Any travel that is funded by county revenues must be reported on the TDR. If a department head or employee travels using non-county funds, but act in their official capacity, during the trip, they are encouraged to document their travel on the TDR. Elected officials are not mandated to report the trip on the TDR but are also strongly encouraged to do so for the purpose of maintaining transparency in government.
One of the benefits of the TDR in addition to open government is the ability to study the cost effectiveness of travel. While the continuing education is vitally important, in some cases mandated by the state, in this age of electronic media it may be time to seriously look into alternatives to the travel.
The home page of the county website has a convenient link for public viewing. I am providing a document about TDR at this link. - [ View PDF document ]