August is here with all of its heat, and it’s the last month of the fiscal year for the Agency. August also means both the Commission and Board will have their regularly scheduled meetings this month and that the agendas will be busy –as they always are after a legislative session. And for this session especially since we underwent a Sunset Commission review and need to implement all of the changes that resulted from that process. Many rule amendments are needed to implement these changes and also some significant budget adjustments to accommodate those requirements. The Commission will meet on August 12, and the Board will meet on August 23. Full agendas and materials are posted on our websites in advance. You may also tune into the live stream for the meetings via a link on the website.
I am very pleased to report that the agency is making sustained progress in our response to Customer Service needs. July was the second consecutive month with an average monthly call hold time under 3 minutes. Even better, our contact center was able to sustain those results with an additional 1800 calls coming into the agency for July - an 11% increase in calls from June. We continue to look for ways to improve hold times and to ensure we can provide information in a timely manner. We are hiring two more members for our contact center team. Additionally, we are posting an application status tracker to the Board’s website this month that will provide appraiser applicants information on the status of their individual applications. Development of an application tracker for broker applicants is underway and we continues to work on providing a simpler method for all license holders to sign into the online service portal when a password is forgotten. All of these tools should help to reduce the number of calls to the Agency.
As of September 1, the agency will no longer be issuing licenses for Instructors. We have updated our lists of providers and instructors and educated them regarding this change. We will also be reminding our license holders of how these changes may affect them. Our license holders will still have access to excellent instructors and will still be giving our approved education providers and the agency feedback on the quality of instruction. This feedback is essential in our quality audit processes.
Also on September 1, TREC will also no longer be issuing branch office licenses. Any branch office license that expires after September 1 will continue to be valid through its expiration date and will not be renewed. On September 1 the Agency will no longer accept any new branch office licenses.
This September 1 also marks my ten-year service anniversary at the agency. When I was asked to lead the agency ten years ago, I offered a list of priorities and projects that the Commissioners and Board members wanted to have completed and tasked me to accomplish. I am proud to say that each of the items on this agreed list has been accomplished – and much more. A brief recap is in order.
- Enhance professionalism by strengthening broker responsibility and improving education standards.
- Modernize rules development to minimize regulatory burdens while enhancing consumer protections.
- Bring the agency’s technology forward from an era of older proprietary systems to a more web-enabled, accessible, distributed service model that updates regularly as technology improves.
- Upgrade the website tools and phone system to current standards that also change with the times.
- Gain self-directed, semi-independent status to achieve control over the resources the agency needs to thrive, while paying a fair share of overhead but without subsidizing non-related state ventures.
- Relocate agency from a privately owned and rented facility in a challenging neighborhood to a state office building in the heart of the Capitol complex, with potential for co-development of a new facility.
- Build the agency into an attractive workplace, by creating a group of self-developing staff teams who are capable, proactive, and forward-looking, who interact regularly with their peer agencies across the nation, while learning best practices and earning respect by demonstrating sound public policymaking.
All of these goals have been achieved and we are very proud of the collaborative efforts of our great stakeholders and the professional associations which have made all of these advances possible. This agency is considered a leader in national regulatory matters. While there is still much great work to do, we also have much to be grateful for. You can count on us to continue to aim high!