The TxDOT audit

I’m sure you will be surprised to learn that TxDOT has a lot of issues.

The Texas Department of Transportation should significantly alter its leadership structure, reshuffle its executive ranks and reduce the role engineers play in leading the sprawling agency.

That’s according to a new — and at 628 pages, exhaustive — audit of its management and structure by the accounting firm Grant Thornton. The audit, available in full here, was released Wednesday by the department after the accounting firm revealed its findings.

I am still working through the details, and there are a lot of them. But key recommendations from the audit focus strongly on the nature of the leadership of the department, which has been under fire in Austin and elsewhere for years, often because of resentment by lawmakers and others that see it as a tool of Gov. Rick Perry’s campaign to add toll roads throughout Texas.

The audit notes that one of the most fundamental challenges faced by the department is an unsteady funding stream, and soaring costs associated with its monumental responsibilities. Texas cities are among the fastest-growing in America, and the state maintains more miles of highways than any other — an expensive combination.

But the report also states that a lack of trust by lawmakers and members of the public has played a critical role in preventing the agency from getting higher appropriations. Some simply don’t believe the agency needs what it says it needs. Others, the audit stated, say that until TxDOT wins that trust back, many stakeholders feel it shouldn’t be given more money to spend — even if it clearly needs it.

There’s more there, and from Burka, who’s a longtime critic of TxDOT; State Sen. Kirk Watson and Bill White also weigh in from a more pointedly political perspective. From my perspective, how many more examples do you need of Rick Perry’s failure as Governor? The single biggest power the Governor has, one Perry has used to put an indelible stamp on the state, is the power of appointment. His people have been running TxDOT for nearly a decade now. Whatever problems it has, they’re his responsibility. Whatever needs to be done to fix it that hasn’t been done, that’s his responsibility, too. And as long as TxDOT is his responsibility, nothing is going to change no matter what a bunch of consultants put in a report. The problems start at the top.

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One Response to The TxDOT audit

  1. Pingback: Eye on Williamson » TxDot’s management audit, we’ve heard it all before

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