A lawmaker questions the quality, accountability, and cost of work done for the DOT.
State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) says independent consultants are being paid too much money to do the work Transportation Department employees used to do for much less.
“It is a problem because I think that we are continuing to rely more and more on private contractors and consultants – especially at DOT.”
DOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi is sympathetic to Lassa’s concern about quality and cost, but considering the budget deficit, he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. He says it’s difficult to “deliver the program” when the agency simply has not hired any new employees.
“We’ve had, I believe, over 500 positions, because of budgetary constraints and you know whatever, that we haven’t filled. And in order for us to embark on this building program that we’ve had the past number of years, we’ve had to consult out.”
Lassa says it’s problematic when talented staffers leave the department to do private contract work for twice as much money. Busalacchi says he doesn’t have the answer.
“You know the governor’s had to make some really tough decisions. Not just this budget but the last budget. And I don’t know … I don’t know where, you know, where we go from here to be perfectly honest with you.”