Transparency

Harris County residents need to know how their government is working for them so they can be informed, have a say, and get involved. Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo has been opening the doors to county government by initiating the County's first-ever open transition process and taking action to make governing more accessible to everyone.


Key Accomplishments

  • Held the County's first-ever open transition process with seven town hall meetings across Harris County and a survey that brought together 200+ community organizations and received 11,000 responses. The county is already acting on the many recommendations received from residents, including work to support the county's first-ever affordable housing plan, reforms to the juvenile justice system, and systems like the 3-1-1 line that residents said needed to exist so that they could more easily connect with government.
  • Ensuring County business is done out in the open. Commissioners Court meetings are now in-depth, dynamic conversations routinely attended by community members rather than a brief formality.
  • Made voting easier by expanding access to the ballot box. The County now allows residents to vote at any polling location on Election Day, not just their home precinct, and has expanded early voting hours and locations, including increased access for students with early voting polls opened at the University of Houston and Texas Southern University. For the historic 2020 election held in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harris County made a $17 million investment to triple the number of Early Vote locations and provide mail-in ballots. As a result, Harris County saw almost 70% turnout -- the highest in 30 years. The County also created an Elections Administrator Position to modernize Harris County elections and ensure voting is fair, efficient, secure, and accessible and approved funding of up to $54 million for new, state-of-the-art voting machines.
  • Directed the county to create a 3-1-1 system to make County services easier to reach.
  • Making sure Harris County is counted when it comes to the 2020 Census. The County has committed a historic $3.4 million dollars to Census efforts and launched our first-ever Houston-Harris County Complete Count Committee to ensure we receive our fair share of federal dollars.
  • Launched Harris Thrives, an initiative to execute a faster, fairer, and smarter flood control policy. As part of this commitment, the County Judge’s office is sharing real-time information on construction progress for flood bond projects, including how and where dollars are being spent. Visit HarrisThrives.org.
  • Creating a better method to invest in public infrastructure. In coordination with County Departments, Harris County is improving the process through which investments are determined for capital improvement projects. Moving forward, the County will work in tandem with the communities they serve to gather input on where to invest and provide user-friendly information on where taxpayer dollars are being spent.
  • Supported the launch of an anonymous reporting system to help identify fraud, waste, or abuse in county government. The hotline, accessible 24/7 via phone or online, allows individuals to report suspicious activity such as excessive or improper use of county assets.
  • Created a commission to advise the county on how to protect and celebrate African American history and culture in Harris County.
  • Allocated $12 million to significantly expand vote by mail to ensure safe and accessible voting for seniors and residents impacted by COVID-19.
  • Launched reform of the budget process and budget department to focus on performance-based budgeting and evaluate programs based on best-practices informed outcomes.
  • Refinanced the Harris County Toll Road debt at historically low rates to divert funds for urgent COVID-19 pandemic assistance and flood control projects, ensuring Harris County residents get the most beneficial return on their dollar.
  • Committed to improving coordination and information-sharing on environmental work with the City of Houston by defining procedures for any future county-city partnerships for joint pollution monitoring, mitigation, investigations, and/or enforcement.
  • Created the Hispanic Cultural Heritage Commission to advise the County on how to best serve the needs of our Hispanic population.
  • Created a Chief Talent Officer position to oversee candidate searches and hiring processes that ensure we hire the best and brightest talent.
  • Ended the County’s long-standing policy of "rollover" budgeting for most general fund departments which allowed departments to hold on to budgeted and unspent funds indefinitely. Now unspent funds from the prior fiscal year are diverted to areas where they are most needed, like public safety, allowing for greater transparency in where and why the County’s money is budgeted.
  • Established the new County Administrator position, a management tool to ensure that planning and implementation are responsive to the goals and objectives of Commissioners Court, carried out effectively over time, and measured to determine whether intended outcomes are achieved.
  • Established Budget Management Department Diversity and Inclusion Policy for Hiring of Third-party Firms.
  • Declared Juneteenth an official County holiday.