Virginia looks to overhaul transportation dept. peformance

An independent audit of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) recently found multiple issues with the agency’s maintenance, project development and fiscal management practices. In an announcement Tuesday, Governor Bob McDonnell approved an action plan submitted by the agency that includes better use of information technologies and performance measurement.

The VDOT action plan is response to over fifty audit findings that centered on the need to improve cost-savings strategies, organizational efficiencies, and performance and operational metrics. The action plan sets ambitious benchmarks to improve financial, project management and technological aspects of DOT.

One part of the action plan calls for improved use of technology by January 2011. VDOT will reconvene the Technology Steering Committee to meet regularly and discuss IT initiatives of import, assess the current DOT IT portfolio and improve information sharing processes within the agency on technology needs.

Other major benchmarks include the designation of funding responsibilities to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. Over $1.45 billion was identified by the independent study, officials said, and VDOT’s action plan will designate an entity responsible for each category. In addition, the plan also establishes a process to select projects that will utilize the unused funds identified in the audit:

  • $200 million in excess construction cash will be administered by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB)
  • $524 million in the “federal reserve” will be allocated to specific projects by the CTB during the spring 2011 update to the Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program (SYIP)
  • $200 million in unspent maintenance allocations will be provided to VDOT’s nine districts to meet critical maintenance needs
  • $130 million in inactive federal project balances already allocated to projects will be re-obligated to other active projects in coordination with localities
  • $400 million in toll credits will be allocated to specific projects by the CTB as a state match to federal projects.

“This performance audit and implementation of VDOT’s action plan will have an immediate impact on our economy and a lasting effect on Virginia’s transportation infrastructure,” Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton said in a statement.