By Bob Rinker:
During the week of January 4th, the National Association of State Highway Transportation Unions (NASHTU) sent a letter to the incoming Biden Administration’s Transportation Transition team urging support for NASHTU’s longstanding legislative objectives. CSEA along with SEIU were founding members of the NASHTU in order to influence federal legislation as it impacts Federal Transportation funds.
Specifically, NASHTU recommended that the Biden Administration support a requirement to perform a cost comparison analysis prior to outsourcing transportation services. State and local departments of transportation spend hundreds of millions of federal dollars every year on private contracts for engineering and related transportation services without competitive bidding and without determining if these contracts are cost-effective and the best to protect the public interest.
The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has concluded that outsourcing is “more expensive than performing work in-house, particularly for engineering services.” Several states have also
analyzed outsourcing by their DOTs and concluded outsourcing engineering and design services can
cost two to three times as much as using in-house staff. In Connecticut, cost effectiveness evaluations required by the Clean Contracting law passed in 2007 showed that all engineering and design services are less expensive than outside consultants. These cost effectiveness evaluations were done by Connecticut’s own Department of Transportation.
DOT won’t say how much it costs taxpayers, but CSEA has taken those cost effective evaluations and applied them to current consultant contracts. The results show waste of over a $100 million
per year. NASHTU also asked the Biden Administration to support requiring public employees to perform the construction inspection on federally-funded transportation projects.
On transportation projects, construction inspectors are the eyes, ears and voice of the public. Public
inspectors ensure that construction standards are met, that projects meet safety requirements, and that the materials used will stand the test of time. Their role is to ensure that the motoring public gets what they pay for and public safety and the public interest are protected. President Elect Joe Biden has said that infrastructure investment will be a key priority for his Administration. NASHTU looks forward to working with the Biden Administration and Congress to achieve these important public interest objectives.