Legislative Analyst's Office

Analysis of the 2000-01 Budget Bill

Legislative Oversight

Departments Disregard Legislative Directive

The transportation departments within the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency have generally disregarded legislative direction to provide program and expenditure information. The lack of information hinders the Legislature's oversight of state programs. We recommend that the Legislature withhold action on the budget of the Secretary for Business, Transportation and Housing pending submittal of previously requested supplemental reports by the various departments.

We further recommend that where a required supplemental report would provide supporting information for particular budget proposals, those proposals be denied absent the required report.

Additionally, we recommend that instead of adopting supplemental language directing departments to provide information at a future time, the Legislature disapprove any funding requests for which the departments fail to sufficiently respond during the budget hearing process to the Legislature's concerns.

In the Supplemental Report of the 1999 Budget Act , the Legislature directed various transportation departments within the Business, Transportation and Housing Agency to report on a number of their programs and activities. The Legislature's purpose in requesting these reports was to exercise legislative oversight by holding the departments accountable for their use of funds and staff in achieving statutory objectives and goals. Many of these reports were required to be submitted by early January 2000 in order to provide the Legislature with pertinent information as it reviews the 2000-01 budget. Figure 1 (see next page) lists the departments, reports, and their due dates as well as the status of those reports.

Reasons for Information Requirement and Nature of Information to Be Submitted. In reviewing the 1999-00 budget for transportation, the Legislature expressed concerns over the level of funding for a number of programs. It also was concerned with the level of activities being carried out under these programs. As a result, the Legislature adopted numerous supplemental reporting requirements directing departments to report on the funding levels, statutory requirements, and workload of a number of programs.
Figure 1
Transportation Departments
1999-00 Supplemental Report Requirements Statusa
Due Date
Department of Transportation (Caltrans)
  • Bridge scour
  • Pesticides
10/1/1999 Not received
  • Highway beautification
1/10/2000 Not received
  • Traffic operations strategies
1/1/2000 Not received
  • San Joaquin route
11/1/1999 Not received
California Highway Patrol
  • El Protector
1/10/2000 Not received
  • Protective services
9/1/1999 Not received
  • Cellular--911
12/1/1999 Not received
Department of Motor Vehicles
  • Database redevelopment
12/1/1999 Not received
a As of January 31, 2000.


For example, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) is required to report on its progress in replacing its major databases, a substantial undertaking by the department which has been repeatedly revised and delayed. The report is to provide an update on the estimated costs and completion dates for the replacement effort, as well as explain changes to those costs and dates.

Similarly, the Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is required to report on the status and funding opportunities for transportation projects through traffic operations strategies such as direct freeway access ramps, movable barriers to channel highway traffic, etc.

Departments Generally Disregard Legislative Directive; Legislature's Program Oversight Reduced. As Figure 1 shows, at the time this analysis was prepared, most of the required reports had not been submitted. The failure to meet the reporting requirements shows a general disregard of legislative directive on the part of the administration. Additionally, the lack of information hinders the Legislature's ability to evaluate the departments' budget needs, assess their performance, and hold the departments accountable.

Reports Submitted Do Not Respond to Directive. As Figure 1 shows, only one report has been submitted (by Caltrans). In addition, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) submitted a response regarding the requirement for a report on its El Protector program. The response advised the Legislature that CHP would not be providing the report because it was not collecting the necessary data. As a consequence, while CHP responded on time, it provided no useful information to assist the Legislature. The CHP response raises an additional concern for the Legislature. Specifically, the department did not advise the Legislature that it was not collecting the data, or express any concerns about its ability to provide the information when the reporting requirement was discussed at last year's budget hearings. This gave the impression that the information would be forthcoming.

Analyst Recommendations. It is important that the Legislature have a means of obtaining information it deems necessary to make policy and budget decisions. In view of the administration's general lack of regard for legislative direction to provide information in these program areas, we recommend the Legislature do the following:

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