Audit's Findings of Caltrans "Big Lie" Means CA Must Reform Road Spending Before Considering Higher Taxes

Friday, March 18, 2016

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“We don’t need to raise gas taxes to fix our roads.  We need to stop letting Caltrans waste the money it already has and then lie about how that money is being used.”
– Senator Moorlach

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(Sacramento, CA) – The State Auditor’s latest report on Caltrans is the clearest signal yet that road funds are not being spent efficiently, nor in the highest-priority areas.  

“This audit reinforces the fact that our bad roads are not a result of a lack of funding.  They’re a result of a lack of competence at Caltrans,” said State Senator John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).  “We don’t need to raise gas taxes to fix our roads.  We need to stop letting Caltrans waste the road money it already has and then lie about how that money is being used.”

The report released by the State Auditor is just the latest in a string of audits that show Caltrans is one of the worst run, and least truthful, agencies in the nation.  Here are just a few of the findings:

  • Caltrans officials lied to legislators for 7 years. Caltrans spent $250,000 on a study of how to improve field maintenance operations for greater efficiency.  Caltrans ignored the study for 7 years, but at the same time told legislators they were implementing the report’s recommendations:  “Specifically, the maintenance division never implemented a budget model (model) that it paid $250,000 to develop in 2009. Use of that model would have allowed the maintenance division to identify the resources needed to maintain highways with similar conditions at a similar level of maintenance performance (known as a service score)… although the maintenance division never implemented its model, the division has been reporting to the Legislature that it is using this sophisticated model to allocate field maintenance funding …as a result, the Legislature and other decision makers may have believed that headquarters was using a more robust approach to allocate funding to the districts than it actually was, causing those decision makers to be less likely to question the allocations.”

  • “Caltrans’ weak controls over field maintenance do not adequately ensure that work order costs are reasonable and allowable and that the resources used were necessary and appropriate.” 

  • No supporting documentation is maintained for work order costs, such as labor, equipment, and materials used to complete field maintenance work.” 

Yesterday, Caltrans officials said they would implement this latest audit’s recommendations.  “Yeah, right,” responded Senator Moorlach. 

Other key indicators that Caltrans is a broken agency: 

“The metrics tell the story.  We pay some of the nation’s highest costs for our roads, and we have some of the worst roads to show for it.  Caltrans is a broken agency,” concluded Senator Moorlach.   

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See full report here