Treebark The 2008 Managing Performance conference kicked off in Austin this evening with a welcome from Texas Comptroller Susan Combs. She gave the conferees her take on why good government management is so important. "The simple answer is, it's your money," she said.

Combs talked about some of the efficiencies and cost-savings she's helped the state realize since taking office in January 2007. Simply merging the state's five different contracts for printer toner cartridges into one single contract, for example, saved $73,000. Combs also talked about how she's working with other states to implement some better strategic sourcing methods.

But it was the way she summed it up that let everyone know just what state they're in. Combs, who also works as a cattle rancher on the same ranch owned by her great-grandfather a century ago, was recently in the market for a new truck to use around the ranch. Weighing all the costs and benefits of different truck options, Combs says she was reminded of a saying -- one that applies pretty darn well to government management as well:

When it comes to spending, she said, always keep this in mind: "You gotta be as tight as the bark on a tree."

Well said!