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Texas Governor, Greg Abbott hires out of state firm for site redesign

When Texas Governor, Greg Abbott hits the road bragging about all of the positivity the Governor’s Office has done for the state, hiring an out of state firm to redesign his own site with taxpayer dollars has some scratching their heads.

Texas Governor site, built by non-Texans

With nearly 30 million residents, Texas is home to the Silicon Hills of Austin and is rich with talent in the tech industry. There are thousands of tech companies within the state’s borders, and hundreds of web design firms. Which is exactly why some are scratching their head at the announcement that The Office of the Governor (OOG) has hired an Arkansas-based firm to redesign its public-facing website for $85,000.

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The OOG’s current site greets you with the lead image of a group of women with Governor Abbott, proclaiming “making Texas #1 for women-owned businesses,” followed shortly by “the Texas economy continues to thrive,” which is in direct conflict with sending business outside of the state. Was there no woman-owned firm worthy of hiring in Texas?

If the mission truly is to support and expand the healthy business ecosystem which Texas is so famous for, the decision to send $85,000 of taxpayer money outside of the State may confuse some.

$85,000 in taxpayer dollars goes to an Arkansas firm

Although the OOG put out a request for proposal (RFP) solicitation to Texas companies, they also did so through the Department of Information Resources (DIR), which allows local and state governments to get discounted services from DIR-approved vendors from across the nation.

“I am surprised to learn that the Governor of the great state of Texas was unable to find anyone in the large State of Texas to handle the job,” said Jay Matthew of Jay Matthew Consulting. “This does not really do much to show that [Governor Abbott] values the hard working people of this state… many of which I know would be more than capable of handling this project. Outsourcing something that represents Texas is an extremely poor decision.”

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Although it does not appear that the Governor’s values are misaligned with the hard working folks in the Lone Star State, this contract could lead people to think otherwise.

UI designer, Robert Emery Shelton tells us, “Given that the Governor’s office sits in the heart of the tech industry in Texas (Austin), it’s an odd choice to give an out of state firm the design contract, given the subject matter.” Shelton adds that “Because it’s taxpayer funded, the contract most definitely should have been invested in a Texas designer/firm.”

But there might be a good reason

It’s possible that of the Texas companies that submitted proposals, none were willing to do the scope of work within the budget range, so getting a discount from out of state might have been the best option (too bad India isn’t an option for DIR-approved vendors).

It’s also conceivable that none of the companies that responded to the RFP had the high level of experience that the winning firm obviously has, regardless of geography.

It is possible that Texas firms were honest with the OOG (“no one can do that much work for that little cash”), but it is equally possible that the Texas firms submitted bloated proposals with over-priced cockiness.

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We have requested access to the redesign proposals and requested further information as to whether or not the OOG hired a non-DIR vendor without acquiring an exemption. We have also requested comment from the Governor himself.

The story is developing, and the inspiration for hiring a non-Texas firm remains unclear, but it is certainly clear that it doesn’t put Gov. Abbott in a positive light as he promotes all of the good that the OOG really, truly does to develop, attract, and expand the business economy in Texas.

#Texas

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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