Virginia Transportation Agencies Under Scrutiny

traffic-jamMaking good on a campaign promise, Governor McDonnell announced today a series of independent audits aimed at improving transportation performance and the efficiency of Virginia’s transportation agencies. The Commonwealth is faced with ever increasing costs for road improvements, yet taxpayers consistently refuse to support tax increases to fund more road spending. Many in the state capital believe the hesitation to support additional funding stems from a lack of trust in the stewardship of transportation agencies.   The audits will   provide recommendations to improve the operations, maintenance, finance and construction practices of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) and other transportation agencies with a goal of greater transparency in where road funds go and how they are spent.

Speaking about the independent audits the Governor remarked, “I am committed to finding long-term, sustainable ways to pay for our vital transportation network. But, before we can talk about revenues or additional investments of public and private capital into our highways, work is needed to improve public confidence in our ability to manage our current transportation dollars. We must restore the credibility of our transportation programs in the eyes of the General Assembly and the general populace. Thorough independent audits are the first step in that process.”

Independent reviews of existing programs will provide insight into how the system works today and ways it can be improved to increase efficiency and reduce overhead costs, while work continues to develop a comprehensive strategy that addresses public and private investments in the commonwealth’s pavements, bridges, rails, ports, airports and public transportation infrastructure.

The transportation reviews underway include:

  • House Bill 42 and Senate Bill 201, which commission the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission to conduct a review of the commonwealth’s planning and programming activities.
  • An independent performance audit of operations and maintenance practices at VDOT to be conducted by Cherry, Bekaert and Holland, LLP.
  • A review of research programs administered by the Virginia Transportation Research Council to be conducted by the Turner Fairbanks Highway Research Center at the Federal Highway Administration.
  • A program assessment of the Virginia Public-Private Transportation Act program to develop standardized goals, processes, priorities and program delivery tools for these public-private projects. This review will be conducted by KPMG Corporate Finance, LLC.

The administration’s goal for these outside reviews is to ensure that Virginia is employing the best possible transportation management practices. It is estimated that the costs of all the audits will be less than $500,000, unless results are found which require additional analysis.

“These audits are not efforts to place blame or find fault with practices of the past,” said Sean T. Connaughton, Secretary of Transportation. “They are efforts to improve the efficiency and transparency of our transportation programs and to identify industry best practices that will ensure every dime spent on transportation results in the maximum benefit for our taxpayers. The result will allow us to make better informed, transparent and strategic decisions concerning the long-term transportation improvements needed for the commonwealth.”