Keep the Texas Department of Health s Name

The new state health agency to be created September 1, 1993, should keep the Texas Department of Health s name, and not add the word Public.

In July 1991, the Legislature enacted House Bill 7 (HB 7), which creat ed a new health agency and moved some health-related functions previously performed by the current Texas Department of Health (TDH), the Department of Human Services and the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation into the new agency. The effect of the legislation was to dissolve the current TDH and replace it with most of the same programs, plus a few more. The legislation changed the name of the Texas Department of Health to the Texas Department of Public Health. (This name change was not a part of the Texas Performance Review recommendations, the basis of the reorganization.) The effective date of this change is September 1, 1993.

Changing an agency s name costs taxpayer money; consequently, there needs to be a good reason for changing the name. HB 7 did not explain why the name was changed, but it is presumed that it was changed to make it clear that it was a new agency and not the same old one with a few more programs. However, creating a new agency does not preclude the state from using the old agency s name.

Some beneficial reasons to change an agency s name include changing the overall character of an agency s responsibilities, to make the name more meaningful to the general public or to create a new image. HB 7 did give TDH some new functions, but the addition of the word public does not convey these additional functions, nor does it clarify the agency s mission in any useful way.

The Legislature requires an agency to make every effort to use all current stock of forms and lit erature and make changes only when reprinting is required. Even so, agencies incur additional costs with a name change. These costs include replacing interior and exterior signs and highway signs; changing negatives, plates, business cards and identificati on cards; and changing computer programs for reports, certificates and documents. For example, birth certificates, which are TDH s responsibility, will have to be redesigned and reprinted.

The Legislature should change the Texas Department of Public Health s designated name back to the Texas Department of Health. To realize the savings estimated from this recommendation, the Legislature should reduce the Texas Department of Health appropriation for the 1994-95 biennium by the amount of savi ngs indicated in this report.

This recommendation would save taxpayer money, and a lot of people would be a little less confused.

Fiscal Impact
For the 1994-95 biennium, the projected costs to change TDH s name are $162,000. The costs can be broken into three areas: $64,000 to change the interior and exterior signs at central offices and regional locations, vehicle signs and highway directional signs; $50,000 associated with printing costs, including costs for negatives, plates, pamphlets, business cards and identification cards; and $48,000 to change the computer programs for reports, certificates and documents. If this proposal was adopted, the state could avoid the additional $162,000 in expenses.

Savings to the
Fiscal General Revenue Change in
Year Fund 001 FTEs

1994 $ 81,000 0
1995 81,000 0
1996 0 0
1997 0 0
1998 0 0