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New bill seeks to reform Wisconsin DOT, but will construction workers wind up paying the price?

While many have talked about how to pay for various road projects in Wisconsin, a group of Republican lawmakers are focusing on making the DOT accountable and transparent but critics say a prevailing wage provision could wind up costing construction workers in the pocket book.

The bill's co-sponsor, Republican Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin will be a live guest TODAY on the CBS 58 News at Four to discuss the measure.

"Regardless of what emerges from the revenue side of the discussion," says Sanfelippo. "we are all keenly aware of the dire need for operational reforms inside the Department of Transportation. The audit released earlier this year confirmed that this agency suffers from gross mismanagement on so many fronts."

Supporters of LRB3563 say it combines various reform bills that have already been introduced into one omnibus reform package.

This bill also proposes several new ideas to address many of the serious problems highlighted by the audit which is aimed at saving millions of dollars while increasing transparency over DOT operations and management and restore taxpayer’s faith in this important agency.

· Provide DOT with multiple options for project delivery. New options include Design-Build, Construction Manager-General Contractor, fixed price variable scope and incorporates the use of “alternative technical concepts”. These changes increase competition and transparency and will lead to projects being completed in shorter periods of time and for less money.

· Extend the use of these added project delivery methods to counties, towns, cities and technical colleges (at their request).

· Direct the creation of a Technical Review Committee to review contract proposals. .

· Create a scoring process that places emphasis on transparency and low project cost along with an incentive program to utilize Wisconsin-based contractors.

· Create reporting requirements for the department so the legislature can measure the effectiveness of these reforms.

· Limits the amount of engineering work the department can do with in-house staff to 20% to help hold down unnecessary positions.

· Require DOT to devise a new funding formula for regions that is based on need rather than baseline funding.(issue raised in audit)

· Direct DOA to develop a plan for issuing an RFP to conduct a thorough operational and financial audit of the entire DOT agency.

LRB 3563 includes the following reforms that have already been introduced:

1. Local approval of roundabouts (SB 80)

2. DOT Inspector General (SB 143)

3. Repeal of prevailing wage (SB 216)

4. Fed swap (SB 217)

5. Required referendum for local wheel tax (AB 361)

6. Full Audit of DOT

When asked for comment, the DOT sent the following response:

"I can tell you that months ago, shortly after his appointment, Secretary Ross directed WisDOT staff to review and reprioritize all projects, streamline processes and find more efficiencies. This process is well underway. As he has stated multiple times, Secretary Ross welcomes all ideas to make WisDOT more efficient and accountable.

Patty Mayers
Director
WisDOT Office of Public Affairs "




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