BATON ROUGE, La. – Because of the current fiscal challenges the state is facing, the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) is in the process of implementing a number of measures that will save the department money.
“In light of the serious fiscal challenges the state is facing, the Department of Transportation and Development is examining ways we can prioritize our programs and our processes,” said DOTD Secretary William D. Ankner. “We are looking for ways to reduce our spending while maintaining essential services to our customers. I can assure you that we will continue to make responsible decisions about how we spend taxpayer funds.”
The following two streamlining efforts have been adopted as official recommendations of the Streamlining Commission:
Elimination of airplane
At the end of the current fiscal year, DOTD plans to eliminate its airplane, which is used for aerial photography. The department is in the process of securing a contract to outsource this service. The savings that will result from this change will vary by year, depending on the number of aerial photographs the department requires. DOTD estimates that the change will save approximately $140,000 per year, and will generate a one-time revenue from the sale of the airplane.
Leasing vehicles at headquarters
DOTD is in the process of reducing its fleet of cars, trucks and vans by 10 percent, or a total of 180 vehicles. The department is developing a rental policy so it can use rental cars as needed. The department is aiming to finalize by the end of the first quarter.
In addition to the official recommendations of the Streamlining Commission, the following cost-saving and efficiency efforts also are under way at DOTD:
Part of DOTD’s headquarters building was occupied by the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) until 2006. Because of this, DOTD has maintained some of its staff at leased locations throughout Baton Rouge. The department’s legal and real estate sections were operated from Essen Lane, and its public works section operated from an office near the Baton Rouge airport. The department is finalizing renovations of the space in preparation to relocate these sections to the headquarters campus. The relocations will begin this summer. The consolidation of the DOTD campus will result in an annual savings of approximately $600,000.
Discontinuance of non-essential construction signs
DOTD has reduced the number of non-essential construction signs on projects. The signs are installed on a construction project to show the amount of state and federal dollars being spent on the project.
Consultant selection timeline process improvement
DOTD has expedited road projects by reducing the time it takes to procure a consultant for engineering and related services by approximately 60 percent. A key point of the improvements identified required revising the consultant selection statutes, which were passed during the 2009 legislative session.
Consolidation of responsibility for water resource management under DNR
Earlier this month, DOTD and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that consolidated all the responsibilities of water resource management under DNR. Additionally, DOTD agreed to provide two technical positions to DNR to perform work duties relative to the program along with the funding of those positions.
Conduct pilots for outsourcing lab work in two district offices
DOTD is preparing to launch two simultaneous pilot programs to outsource components of the lab work done in two district offices. These pilot programs – one in the New Orleans district and one in the Alexandria district – will help the department determine whether it is more efficient to hire private firms to perform its concrete and aggregate testing. DOTD staff is currently developing the criteria by which to measure the consultant’s performance and costs over the year-long program.