Susan Combs

Susan Combs

Susan Combs was elected Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts in November 2006 and immediately set an innovative course of action to transform state government and prepare Texas for the future beginning her first day in office on Jan. 1, 2007.As Comptroller, Combs is the state’s chief financial officer. She manages the state’s treasury operations to monitor Texas’ fiscal health, guides legislative decision makers by estimating state revenues and ensures state taxes are collected fairly and efficiently to fund vital programs and services for the people of Texas. But her focus does not end there.With a belief that government must be fully accountable to the people it serves, Combs has spearheaded unprecedented efforts to give taxpayers a transparent look at how their dollars are spent. She posted the expenses of the Comptroller’s office online her third day on the job. She next took transparency in government spending to new heights by launching the Where the Money Goes Web site. Considered a model by many other states and open government advocates, the site features a virtual check register that gives the public online access to detailed and up-to-date state expenditure information for all state entities.Combs is committed to ensuring that government works as efficiently as possible. Under her leadership, the Comptroller’s office has assessed and implemented a sweeping range of business process improvements projected to save nearly $8 million by the end of 2009 to reinvest in meeting increased demand for services. Combs is also directing a comprehensive study of ways to integrate data across Texas state government to make processes and systems more cohesive, standardized and efficient.Efficiency means better customer service, and Combs has set a standard of excellence for the Comptroller’s office. Direct customer feedback guides improvements at every level, from an ongoing effort to simplify forms and publications to the award-winning redesign of the agency’s Web site to ensure citizens have the fastest access to the information they need.Combs is focused on the future of Texas as well. She has released several vital reports on statewide trends, including Texas in Focus: A Statewide View of Opportunities to look at issues affecting economic growth across the state and The Energy Report, the first of its kind in the nation, to provide a comprehensive assessment of Texas energy options to guide future decisions.Combs also expanded the duties of the Comptroller’s local government assistance division to include economic development and launched the Texas Ahead Web site at www.texasahead.org in May 2008 as a one-stop portal to give businesses, global partners and local governments a wealth of economic development tools and resources. Key among these is the Texas EDGE Data Center that puts key economic development information at users’ fingertips.Because the Texas of tomorrow relies on an educated work force, Combs established the Educational Opportunities and Investment Division at the Comptroller’s office in 2008 to oversee the Texas College Savings Plan and the new prepaid tuition program, the Texas Tuition Promise Fund. Combs believes in every chance for every Texan to succeed by providing the tools to help fund the education needed for skilled, high-paying positions. Combs’ vision for the future drives the efforts of the Comptroller’s office to support a prosperous Texas.As Comptroller, Combs was one of only three women named to Government Technology’s 2009 list of the Top 25 “Doers, Dreamers and Drivers,” recognizing leaders who use technology to solve problems, meet evolving expectations and operate more efficient government operations. In recognizing the demand for improved services, Combs’ efforts to reengineer the Comptroller’s office propelled the state to analyze expenses and use electronic tools to offer a transparent look at government spending. She brought the agency into the 21st century, and by leading the charge with transparency, she’s now helping other state agencies and local governments open their books and identify ways to spend smarter.Combs won the Realtor Legacy Award for demonstrating the highest level of leadership support to Texas property owners and the Trailblazer Award from the Independent Bankers Association of Texas for support of the independent community banking industry. She has also received wide recognition for her work in the fight against obesity. Combs won the inaugural Leadership Award in Obesity Prevention in 2008 from The Michael & Susan Dell Center for the Advancement of Healthy Living. And in March 2006, while working as the Texas Agriculture Commissioner, the American Medical Association presented Combs with the Dr. Nathan Davis Award for Outstanding Government Service, the highest award the AMA can bestow on a public official, for her leadership in tackling the state’s obesity crisis and championing a groundbreaking public school nutrition policy to address it.Combs won back-to-back elections in 1998 and 2002 to serve as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, taking the reins as the first woman elected to the office. She re-engineered the Texas Department of Agriculture for greater efficiency and lowered the agency’s budget by 18 percent without reducing essential services. She trimmed staff while taking on more responsibility to boost economic development, ignite revitalization, promote Texas products through the unified GO TEXAN marketing campaign and ensure Texas schoolchildren had access to healthy food by launching one of the nation’s strongest school nutrition policies.Combs also served two terms in the Texas House of Representatives, where she successfully sponsored and passed the state’s landmark private property rights legislation and authored legislation on tort reform vital to the state’s business community.Combs graduated from Vassar College and worked in international advertising in New York, in the financial markets on Wall Street and for the federal government before returning to Texas to obtain her law degree from the University of Texas School of Law. After graduation, Combs served as an assistant district attorney in Dallas, handling child abuse cases, where her performance as a tough prosecutor earned her widespread respect.Combs was born in San Antonio and has a ranching operation in Brewster County on the same ranch owned by her great-grandfather more than a century ago. She lives in Austin with her husband, Joe, and is the proud mother of three sons.