Department of Transportation Short Staffing Is Costing Taxpayers Millions. CSEA Calls for Cooperation in Staffing Department of Transportation at Appropriate Levels.
Following the Governor’s inauguration address, CSEA delivered a letter to Department of Transportation Commissioner James Redeker applauding Governor Malloy’s plan to focus on transportation issues and calling for cooperation in staffing the DOT at appropriate levels so that the State is never again forced to waste tax dollars on outside consultants due to short staffing. The letter highlighted the State’s own cost-effectiveness evaluations that show construction engineering and inspections performed by in-house state employees could be completed at half the cost of outside consultants in many instances, but that due to short staffing the State continues to depend on consultants to do much of its work. If state employees were used on more projects large and small, the evaluations showed that massive savings from 36% to 52% could be achieved.
We’re optimistic that the administration is serious about ending wasteful practices. The State needs to stop paying other people to do its work; State employees save money and hiring more engineers at the DOT will reduce project costs as the State shifts its focus to transportation issues.
Here is CSEA’s letter to Commissioner Redeker:
In yesterday’s inaugural address, Governor Malloy stated that he intends to focus on transportation in his second term saying, “We can build a transportation system that better connects us to one another and to the rest of the world.”
We are writing you today to applaud that initiative and highlight the fact that state employees can build that transportation system for significantly less than outside consultants.
CSEA has obtained the State’s cost-effectiveness evaluations for consultant construction engineering and inspection’ contracts through freedom of information (FOI) requests. These documents show that project inspections completed by in-house state employees could be completed in many instances at half the cost of outside consultants.
According to the documents, “Since the Department [of Transportation] routinely enters into many Consultant Construction Engineering and Inspection contracts impacting a significant amount of funding, it was decided to complete three Cost Evaluations for this type of service.” The State performed those evaluations using historical data from inspection contracts in the small, medium, and large ranges. If state employees were used on more projects large and small, this cost-effectiveness evaluation showed massive savings from 36% to 52% could be achieved. For large projects, utilizing in-house state employees would save an estimated $4.7 million dollars per contract according to the evaluation.
We have been saying for years that privatization is a gigantic waste of resources, and now we finally have the Department’s own evaluations to prove our point. Connecticut could save millions by performing more work in-house if only the Department of Transportation wasn’t so short staffed. CSEA estimates that if all construction projects had been performed by in-house state employees, Connecticut would have saved $50 million dollars in 2014. To put that number in perspective, Comptroller Kevin Lembo announced this past Friday that the State is on track to end Fiscal Year 2015 with a $31.6-million deficit.
However, the State’s evaluation highlights understaffing as a serious obstacle to obtaining these savings, “The length of time required to establish and fill in-house positions related to this work would be lengthy and would likely jeopardize the federal funding used to fund this work which must be obligated within a specified period of time.” This shortage is being exasperated by the hiring freeze implemented in November to help address the State’s projected FY15 budget deficit.
We are using expensive outside contractors to do the State’s work because we can’t hire more people, and we can’t hire more people because the State is simultaneously dealing with a budget deficit caused in part by wasteful practices, like using outside contractors to do the state’s work. CSEA looks forward to working with you and Governor Malloy to break out of this cycle and achieve the savings promised by these evaluations.
CSEA would like your commitment to work together to bring the staffing at the Department of Transportation to the appropriate levels. We should never be forced to waste tax dollars on outside inspection consultants due to short staffing.
CSEA SEIU Local 2001
Travis Woodward, P.E.
President, P-4 Council
CSEA SEIU Local 2001