Local News

Internal Review Calls for DOT Changes

Posted October 3, 2007 7:32 p.m. EDT
Updated October 3, 2007 11:25 p.m. EDT

— The state Department of Transportation issued a status report Wednesday on an internal investigation. The DOT has faced criticism for troubled projects and inefficiency.

“We will focus more on outcomes rather than outputs, with greater visibility and accountability to the public,” Lyndo Tippett, state transportation secretary, said.

Tippett summarized the $3.5 million, taxpayer-funded internal review as the implementation of general common-sense themes: more accountability, better interagency collaboration and clearer priorities.

A survey of thousands of NCDOT workers revealed they want more focused management.

“We want to know, specifically, when we come to work what everybody's supposed to do,” Mark Foster, NCDOT’s chief financial officer, said.

DOT leaders learned they could save more than $40 million by buying less land to accommodate environmental restrictions.

The botched I-40 paving project that led to more than $20 million in cost overruns still stands as a hard lesson. Tippett said accountability for mistakes will run top to bottom.

“There will be several managers involved in that process in the future,” he said.

“We're not here just to shift boxes and pieces. We're here to make lasting change. That will have significant value to the state,” said Foster.

The NCDOT promised to institute fundamental change in the way it handles highway construction and maintenance.

“Congestion will get worse in years to come. How do we deal with it? That is what we're trying to address,” Tippett said.

Tippett said more efficiency at NCDOT could mean reassigning or laying off workers, but that is not the intent of the review.

Another decision for which NCDOT was criticized was the release of a state contract with consultant McKinsey & Company that had several blacked-out sections.

The governor ordered the document be released without secrets Wednesday.

Since the public is paying for it, a spokesman said they deserve to know the contract details.