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CDOT announces comprehensive transparency and accountability measures

March 13, 2020 - Statewide News

The Colorado Department of Transportation is announcing a comprehensive transparency and public accountability strategy in preparation for an expanded construction program in 2020 and beyond. CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew presented the new plan today in Grand Junction alongside Transportation Commissioner Kathy Hall and State Senator Ray Scott.

“This initiative is particularly important now, as the legislature has entrusted CDOT with an additional $500 million each year for the next several years and raised our normal $1.5 billion budget to $2 billion,” said Director Lew. “This funding boost will help us move the needle on several key needs--and it will be up to us to prove we can handle the added responsibility.”

Planning and project delivery is the first plank of CDOT accountability strategy. The agency prioritized and streamlined construction projects for 2020, after conducting a statewide listening tour and review in 2019. The result is a statewide project pipeline that gets the most out of available funding and sets a plan for future dollars.

The second key accountability strategy making our budget more transparent and our internal management controls as strong as possible, which includes the following changes: 

  • More detailed tracking of budgets on larger projects that are scheduled to last longer than a year to complete.   

  • New software that helps detect irregular patterns and unusual budget requests, allowing CDOT to spot potential fraud early and investigate proactively.

  • New public reporting projects so Coloradans can see the progress on CDOT projects and how dollars are spent.

  • Setting new spending targets to ensure more money is spent on infrastructure, where the public can see and use CDOT’s work.

The third element of CDOT’s new initiative is making sure we’re spending on projects that directly benefit residents. In the budget CDOT submitted to Governor Jared Polis late last year, we proposed $25 million in savings through an internal reorganization and other measures. 

“At my direction, CDOT slashed spending on out of state travel and conferences by more than $500,000 last year; between 2015 and 2018, CDOT’s out of state travel spending had increased by 70%,” said Director Lew. “We also worked with the Transportation Commission to reprioritize about $11 million a year towards common sense safety improvements, like better and more visible highway striping, and to find more cost effective ways to remain a leader in emerging areas like preparing Colorado for shared, connected, autonomous and electric transportation technologies.”

The final plank in CDOT’s accountability program deals with the way CDOT does business with the contractors who build capital projects. CDOT is tightening the controls around projects so they are clearly defined, well-executed and have firm timelines.

“I expect CDOT to put every possible dollar onto our roads,” said State Senator Ray Scott. “For too long, the department hid behind the complexities of its work and did not live up to this expectation in my opinion. This strategy shows a series of steps that puts CDOT back on the right track. Now that they’re pointed in the right direction, I will do everything I can to make sure they stay headed that way.” 

This comprehensive effort seeks to put every resource and dollar where it can best be put and where Coloradans can see results.

“Director Lew has shown a willingness to push CDOT towards more accountability--first when she worked with her planning and outreach team to engage the public more seriously last year, as well as when she shifted spending,” said Transportation Commissioner Kathy Hall. “If the full range of proposals in this accountability strategy meet their goals, Colorado will have a far more transparent and effective transportation department than it has ever seen.”

ABOUT CDOT

CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Governor Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.  

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