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State releases final ODOT improvement recommendations
SALEM - The state's executive department released final recommendations for reforming weaknesses at the Oregon Department of Transportation Monday, April 3.
The recommendations resemble a draft released March 24 and first reported by the Pamplin Media Group/EO Media Group Capital Bureau.
The improvement plan by the Department of Administrative Services is based on the findings of an independent consultant's management review of the agency, finalized Feb. 1.
New York-based McKinsey & Co. concluded there is an unclear governance structure for ODOT and the Oregon Transportation Commission, which sets policy for the agency. The agency also lacks a strategic vision for the future and accountability measures, the consultants found.
DAS recommended that the governor and Legislature convene a work group to clarify the governance structure and report back Nov. 1.
ODOT should seek the expertise of a management consulting company to develop a management plan for the agency that would define structure, roles and measurements for success. The agency also should seek out a consulting company to address waste in its fleet and facilities programs and convene procurement experts from other state agencies to review potential improvements for contracting.
Other recommendations call for an agency communications plan, alignment of legislative standards with the realities of the agency's operations and an audit by the Secretary of State's Office specifically on ODOT's management of funds in the highway program.
Finally, DAS recommends conducting another management review in 2020 to identify the progress of any changes.
"I fully embrace these recommendations and wholeheartedly believe that ODOT will be a stronger organization as a result of them," said ODOT Director Matt Garrett in an email to staff. "Moreover, I commit to working with the (Oregon Transportation) Commission, ODOT employees and our customers to implement these recommendations in a transparent and accountable manner."
Agency leadership will assemble a steering team to help guide implementation of the recommendations and track and report on progress, which also will be published on a webpage, said Assistant ODOT Director Travis Brouwer. The agency also plans to develop a strategic business plan, Garrett wrote in his email to employees.
Gov. Kate Brown ordered the management review to help allay some lawmakers' concerns in preparation for consideration of a transportation package worth hundreds of millions of dollars this session. The revenue to pay for projects would likely come largely from a hike in the state's gas tax and registration fees.
The state paid McKinsey $1 million to conduct the management review on a short timeline, so findings would be available before the end of the legislative session. Yet deadlines for finishing work products in the improvement plan are after lawmakers would likely vote on a transportation package.
A work group of lawmakers plans to recommend accountability measures for ODOT later this week. Those accountability measures could be added to the transportation package legislation.