Public participation is the cornerstone of the Sunset process. It is how Sunset staff gains the broad perspective needed to conduct its review of state agencies and programs. It is how the Sunset Commission receives feedback about the Sunset staff review and hears new ideas and issues beyond what staff has presented. Ultimately, it is how the public itself can be assured of a say on fundamental matters affecting state agencies.
The public may participate in the Sunset process in the following ways:
- Providing input to Sunset staff during the review. Sunset staff tries to get as much information as possible in conducting reviews of state agencies and welcomes input in written material, face-to-face meetings, or phone calls. To help ensure the free flow of information, all information conveyed to staff during its review is confidential and not subject to public disclosure. Effective input should clearly lay out issues regarding the agency under review and identify specific problems and solutions for Sunset staff to consider.
- Giving feedback directly to the Sunset Commission. After the Sunset staff report has been issued, the Sunset Commission conducts a public hearing to receive feedback on the staff’s work. Interested persons may provide feedback in writing or by testifying at the hearing. Because of the public nature of the proceeding, feedback received at this stage is public and will generally be placed on the Sunset Commission’s website for the public to see. To be most effective, this feedback should be short and to the point and clearly indicate support, opposition, or changes to recommendations. One may also present any new issues or solutions that were not raised in the Sunset staff report. Sunset staff compiles this feedback to help the Sunset Commission make decisions about an agency.
- Participating in the legislative process. Generally, for an agency to be continued, a bill must be enacted by the Legislature. The public can participate in the legislative process on Sunset bills in the same way as any other legislation, through hearings in the Senate and House and contacting legislators who vote on the bills.
Please note, Sunset does not get involved in individual complaints, grievances, or cases. At Sunset’s public hearings, testimony about individual cases or appeals is generally not allowed. Sunset is not an ombudsman’s office or an avenue for appeals and cannot override an agency’s decisions. Consideration of these few limitations is appreciated.
Accommodations for People With Disabilities at Sunset Commission Meetings
For the Sunset process to reach its full potential, each Texan must be able to fully and equally participate in every phase of the Sunset review. If you have special needs or wish to request an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accommodation, please contact the Sunset ADA Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (512) 463-1300. Individuals with a hearing impairment may call 1-800-735-2989 for an operator's assistance in contacting the Sunset office.