ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) - RELEASE : The Senate’s Task Force onGovernment Efficiency, chaired by State Senator and Deputy MajorityLeader Jeff Klein, released an investigative report citing $60million dollars in potential cost-savings at the NYS Department ofTransportation (DOT), and more than $200 million in funds theDepartment has already wasted, at a press conference in Albany onTuesday. The report is the third in a series of investigations intostate agency spending by the Task Force. The Task Force alsoannounced on Tuesday that it will hold a hearing to probe DOT onits wasteful spending practices on Wednesday, April 28th.
“It’s time to get smart about spending and stopthrowing money out the window. DOT should know they have anobligation to ensure safety, but that doesn’t necessarilymean a right to excessive spending. We need to grab the reins andget things moving in the right direction so that we can ensure thattaxpayer dollars are being put to good use for years tocome,” said State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader JeffreyD. Klein (D-Bronx/Westchester).
In its latest report, the Task Force uncovered close to $60million in potential cost-saving measures at DOT, ranging frommoving some of its contracted services in-house ($46.5 million) tospeeding up its typical contract close-out time frame ($10 million)to decreasing overtime spending ($3.5 million) or cutting back onnight work ($360,000).
“This is a painful budget year and, more than ever, thespending of every taxpayer dollar needs to be scrutinized.Considering the economic situation we are in, there is simply noexcuse for the DOT to force contractors to replace millions ofsigns across New York State, thus passing on $27 million in coststo our taxpayers. The only new sign we need is a big, red stop signto end this wasteful policy,” said Senator George D. Maziarz(R-Newfane).
The Task Force report also outlined more than $210 million inwasted funds that have already been spent, including $150 millionon contract management and further rising contract costs associatedwith changes in DOT specifications. In 2006, DOT revised itsspecifications for the type of reflective sheeting used on orangeconstruction signs, requiring full compliance by January 2009.Although DOT claimed this change would come at no cost to thestate, contractors statewide had to pay nearly $27 million toreplace the 2.7 million existing signs, a cost they are now passingonto the state in the form of higher contract prices.
The report found that DOT has implemented the same wastefulpractice by recently revising specifications for temporary concretebarriers used at construction sites. In February 2007, DOT releasedrevised specifications for the manufacturing of these commonplacebarriers, requiring that they be replaced with barriers meeting anew set of standards by 2015. At an average cost of $36 per foot,per barrier, it is going to cost the construction industrystatewide an estimated $33.5 million to meet this benchmark, a costthat once again contractors are passing onto the state in highercontract prices.
“We have a responsibility to every taxpaying New Yorker toensure that their tax dollars are being used in the absolute mostefficient way possible. When we find the kind of waste in stateagency services that we are uncovering now in the Department ofTransportation, it is imperative that we address this problemimmediately. Every New Yorker should have the confidence that theirtax dollars are serving a real purpose for the good of our stateand of our local communities. This task force will take swiftaction and use every tool at our disposal to reverse these wastefulpractices at DOT,” said Senator William T. Stachowski (D-C,Lake View), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, EconomicDevelopment and Small Business.
In an effort to stem further wasteful spending and mismanagementof taxpayer dollars at state agencies, the Senate Task Forceannounced the launch of a new webpage on Monday where stateemployees and other interested New Yorkers can anonymously submittheir ideas, suggestions and feedback on how the state can conserveresources in this tough fiscal time, as well as to report anysuspected wasteful government spending or abuse of tax dollars.This page is accessible via the Task Force’s Senate website:http://www.nysenate.gov/committee/task-force-government-efficiency.
The Senate Task Force on Government Efficiency was created withthe goal of uncovering inefficient government spending anddeveloping productive solutions to put taxpayer dollars to betteruse. Chaired by State Senator and Deputy Majority Leader JeffKlein, this bipartisan Task Force was formally announced in Marchof 2010. It is comprised of Senators Darrel Aubertine, Brian X.Foley, Craig Johnson, Betty Little, George Maziarz, Tom Morahan,Jose Peralta, Diane Savino, Jose Serrano, Bill Stachowski, AndreaStewart-Cousins, and David Valesky.
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