‘Worn Out’ by Issues: Legislative Review Describes Options for Future Texas Veterinary Board

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Just a day after the 88th legislature ended, legislators have already instructed Texas legislators to take a closer look at the state institution plagued by problems: the Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners.

In a report released this week, Sunset Advisory Commission staff offered several “options” to lawmakers to consider when deciding how to move forward with the agency responsible for licensing and regulating Texas veterinarians. The report comes after years of problems with “unreliable and inconsistent data collection and management practices” that Sunset staff said “undermined” the agency’s enforcement efforts and prevented it from meeting “basic expectations”.

In 2022, KXAN investigators found dozens of disciplinary documents missing from the agency’s public search website, which may have prevented pet owners from seeing the veterinarian’s disciplinary history. KXAN also found a backlog of complaints related to the agency’s review process.

At that time, several of the agency’s top executives resigned.

These concerns persisted at TBVME after three different Sunset Advisory Commission reviews over the past six years that “repeatedly documented” similar data and governance issues.

Legislators of the Zakat Advisory Commission, together with the staff of the commission, regularly review the effectiveness and work of government agencies.

The latest report from Sunset staff outlined three possible options for consideration by the Sunset Commission and the Texas Legislature:

  • Temporarily attach TBVME to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.
  • Establish an interagency working group to guide TBVME
  • Adopt a few specific oversight recommendations to make sure TBVME is addressing issues

Under the first option, staff recommended that the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) “provide policy development and administrative oversight” for the Veterinary Council. TBVME staff will be monitoring TDLR staff who can also advise on how to acquire a new database. Members of the Veterinary Council will act as an advisory board to the TDLR on these matters.

The report goes on to say, “TDLR is well versed in licensing, enforcement and data management, expertise that the Veterinary Council currently lacks.”

  • Read the full sunset report on TBVME here.

Under the second option, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation would join the Texas Medical Board, the State Board of Pharmacy, the Department of Information Resources, and both of the state’s major universities with veterinary medicine programs: the Texas Tech University System and Texas A&M University. University.

This working group will assist the Veterinary Council and provide quarterly reports to the Sunset Commission and other legislative committees.

In the final draft, Sunset staff laid out specific operational recommendations that they said should be implemented, regardless of what other actions were taken. These include a requirement for an agency to develop consistent methods for collecting, tracking and trending its complaints, a requirement for an agency to prioritize complaints based on the risk they pose to the public, and a requirement for an agency to publish more information on its website, including accurate discipline books for TBVME licensed veterinarians.

The Sunset Advisory Panel will learn more about this report and the TBVME Special Purpose Review at a hearing Wednesday morning. Avery Travis of KXAN will be covering the Capitol hearing and will update this story when more details become available.

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