While our physical offices are closed until further notice in accordance with Austin's COVID-19 "stay home-work safe" order, the Handbook of Texas will remain available at no-cost for you, your fellow history enthusiasts, and all Texas students currently mandated to study from home. If you have the capacity to help us maintain our online Texas history resources during these uncertain times, please consider making a 100% tax-deductible contribution today. Thank you for your support of TSHA and Texas history. Donate Today »


J. Horace Bass

GRIFFENHAGEN REPORT. In 1931, during the Great Depression, a movement was started in Texas and other states to reform the administrative machinery and to reduce the high cost of state government. Demand for reorganization and economy in Texas was responsible for House Concurrent Resolution No. 58, passed by the Forty-second Legislature on May 18, 1931. This resolution established a joint committee of five members and authorized it to investigate all state departments, institutions, and the judiciary. The president of the state Senate was responsible for appointing two senators, and the speaker of the House appointed three representatives. Senators H. Grady Woodruff and Carl C. Hardin and representatives Harry N. Graves, Phil L. Sanders, and J. Turney Terrell were appointed to the committee.

The legislators organized and met on June 10, 1931, under the name Joint Legislative Committee on Organization and Economy, with Graves as chairman and Sanders as secretary. The committee employed Griffenhagen and Associates, specialists in public administration and finance who had worked on similar projects throughout the United States and Canada, to make a survey and act as consultants. The Griffenhagen staff made comprehensive examination of all phases of state administration and incorporated its report in thirteen separately printed and bound parts, aggregating well over 2,000 pages. The volumes covered fiscal and administrative agencies, highways, law enforcement, the judiciary, welfare programs, prisons, health, and education.

The joint committee submitted the findings, under the title The Government of the State of Texas, to the Forty-third Legislature in due time, it thought, for the specific recommendations to be considered in the budget for the biennium 1933 to 1935. The committee stated in the letter of transmittal to the legislature that it believed the recommended reforms might save over $6 million a year without curtailing the services of the government. The recommendations called for a simpler governmental structure that would provide for more effective financial control. They included reducing the executive branch from its 131 departments to nineteen, consolidating special funds, and appointing an independent auditor. The committee called for a shorter ballot by which only the governor, lieutenant governor, and attorney general would be elected; the governor's powers would be increased to include the right to appoint other major officials. The report also proposed to establish departments of finance and administrative services and taxation and revenue; it advocated a compensation pay plan for government workers based upon job requirements rather than fixed salaries.

Although some changes advocated by the efficiency experts were questionable, it was inertia and political expediency that prevented the Forty-third Legislature and subsequent ones from taking any effective action on the recommendations. The net result of this rather expensive if unfulfilled project was to leave a document of considerable value to students of Texas history and government.

Wilbourn E. Benton, Texas: Its Government and Politics (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1961; 4th ed. 1977). The Government of the State of Texas (Austin: Von Boeckmann-Jones, 1933).

Image Use Disclaimer

All copyrighted materials included within the Handbook of Texas Online are in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107 related to Copyright and “Fair Use” for Non-Profit educational institutions, which permits the Texas State Historical Association (TSHA), to utilize copyrighted materials to further scholarship, education, and inform the public. The TSHA makes every effort to conform to the principles of fair use and to comply with copyright law.

For more information go to: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.shtml

If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.


The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, J. Horace Bass, "GRIFFENHAGEN REPORT," accessed June 04, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/mkg01.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
visit the mytsha forums to participate

View these posts and more when you register your free MyTSHA account.

Call for Papers: Texas Center for Working-Class Studies Events, Symposia, and Workshops
Hi all! You may be interested in this call for papers I received from the Texas Center for Working-Class Studies at Collin College...

Katy Jennings' Ride Scholarly Research Request
I'm doing research on Catherine Jennings Lockwood, specifically the incident known as "Katy Jennings' Ride." Her father was Gordon C. Jennings, the oldest man to die at the Alamo...

Texas Constitution of 1836 Co-Author- Elisha Pease? Ask a Historian
The TSHA profile of Elisha Marshall Pease states that he wrote part of the Texas Constitution although he was only a 24 year-old assistant secretary (not elected). I cannot find any other mention of this authorship work by Pease in other credible research about the credited Constution authors...