Independent Study Identified Over $1.45 Billion to be Used to Fund Transportation Projects
$200 Million to go Immediately to Maintenance Projects Statewide; Commonwealth Transportation Board to Administer $200 Million in Excess Construction Dollars; CTB to Allocate Half a Billion Dollars to Specific Projects in Spring 2011 Update to Six-Year Transportation Improvement Program; New Policies to Speed up Time Between Planning and Road Building
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell today approved the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) action plan to rectify problems identified by an independent audit of the agency's maintenance, project development and fiscal management practices. The action plan responds to more than 50 audit findings and proposes cost-saving strategies, organizational efficiencies, and performance and operational metrics that will make VDOT more effective, efficient and accountable.
Commenting on the action plan, Governor McDonnell noted, "VDOT met the deadline to develop a comprehensive action plan to improve its business practices and ensure that its past failures to fully utilize all available transportation funding do not reoccur. The VDOT action plan demonstrates forward-thinking, creative management techniques that we need to better leverage our available resources in order to address transportation needs around the Commonwealth. The citizens of Virginia expect better from their state government and we will meet those expectations."
VDOT's action plan designates a responsible entity for each category of funding and establishes a process to select projects that will utilize the unused funds identified in the audit. This includes:
* $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.
Secretary of Transportation Sean Connaughton added, "Virginia's transportation challenges require us to find better ways of doing business and managing the taxpayer's dollars. 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."
VDOT Action Plan Summary
VDOT will improve transparency and accountability in all aspects of its work and finances. Actions will culminate in monthly financial/operational reports and posting them to VDOT's website. The department will evaluate the need to strengthen its leadership team and fill any necessary management positions.
Target - January 2011
VDOT will improve its use of technology. Actions call for reconvening the Technology Steering Committee that will meet regularly to:
* Discuss information technology initiatives
* Assess current system functionality
* Determine needed system functionality improvements
* Set technology priorities
* Ensure system users have an effective way of sharing information with the Technology Steering Committee.
Target - January 2011
Funding for Transportation
The audit identified that federal funds were not obligated to projects early in the federal fiscal year. Actions include development of a federal strategy that specifically identifies in advance projects to be obligated throughout the federal fiscal year, with 100 percent obligated before the September 30 deadline. VDOT will also develop and implement a plan to monitor the use of federal funds to ensure funds are used and inactive balances are reduced by 50 percent this federal fiscal year. Steps will be taken to streamline and document the process to more efficiently obligate projects with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
Target - Federal obligation strategy will be completed by mid-November. Reducing or eliminating inactive projects will be an ongoing effort.
VDOT will strategically use all available funding and funding mechanisms. The agency will obtain FHWA approval to use $400 to $450 million of toll credits as the state match on federal projects and incorporate the use of toll credits into the development of the Fiscal Years 2012-2017 SYIP. VDOT will also recommend other sources of revenue and funding mechanisms in the SYIP.
Target - Obtain FHWA approval of toll credits for use in the Fiscal Years 2012-2017 SYIP.
VDOT will plan for all anticipated federal revenue. Actions include programming the $524 million currently in the "federal reserve" into the SYIP in order to accelerate the delivery of projects. VDOT will evaluate using approximately $60 to $70 million annually to restore VDOT's inventory of "on-the-shelf" project plans.
Target - June 2011.
VDOT will continually evaluate its operating cash needs. Actions will include analyzing current cash balances and programming excess cash (expected to be approximately $200 to $250 million), to projects in the SYIP or to use the funds in the proposed Virginia Transportation Infrastructure Bank.
Target -Incorporate funding in the SYIP to be developed and approved by June 2011.
Maintenance of System Assets
VDOT's districts will plan their maintenance work to fully utilize their allotted resources and reduce the carryover of balances at the end of the fiscal year. Actions include providing enhanced monitoring over the districts' spend plans, budgets and work accomplishments by having district administrators report to VDOT's chief deputy commissioner and holding monthly operation/finance reviews. Funding rules and business processes will be re-examined and adjusted as needed. VDOT will advertise approximately $400 to $450 million in paving and related contracts for fiscal years 2011 and 2012.
Target - Advertise fiscal years 2011 and 2012 paving and related contracts by December 2010 and December 2011, respectively.
Project Development and Execution
VDOT will improve its process to develop plans and projects in order to more efficiently move them from planning to construction. Actions include:
* Improving the project development timeline
* Creating process transparency between Central Office and district staff through project meetings and improved reporting
* Enhancing functionality of project scheduling tools
* Streamlining the time for procuring professional services
* Establishing routine communications with the industry, localities and metropolitan planning organizations to improve collaboration in the development of the SYIP.
* VDOT will have advertised approximately $1.4 billion in maintenance and construction contracts by June 2011.
Target - June 2011 while some actions will be ongoing
Operations Related to Safety and Congestion Mitigation
VDOT will consider the effectiveness of its safety andcongestion-mitigation efforts. Actions include:
* Conducting post-implementation reviews to evaluate effects of reducing Safety Service Patrols on congestion
* Marketing VDOT's congestion-mitigation efforts
* Improving connectivity among the Transportation OperationsCenters (TOCs) and coordination with other emergency responders
* Ensure technology is continually reviewed and updated
* Establishing targeted goals for clearing incidents
* Developing a solicited public-private partnership or other arrangement to operate and manage the TOCs.
Target - June 2011
Compliance with Reorganization and Staffing Reduction Initiatives
VDOT must continually look for ways to improve its processes. Actions include conducting post-implementation reviews of reorganization and staffing decisions. The department will form working groups of VDOT staff to evaluate business processes for improvement and will coordinate with industry representatives. It will also develop reports to track progress with this initiative.
Target - Kickoff working groups in January 2011.