Audit: Virginia DOT in cash crisis

| Thursday, July 11, 2002

The Virginia state auditor released a report Tuesday that criticizes the state Transportation Department for poor management, failing computer systems and a habit of promising to build roads without knowing whether it has the money to pay for them.

Walter Kucharski, auditor for public accounts, said VDOT is mired in a cash crisis because its engineers have consistently underestimated costs as the agency's top managers have pledged to politicians and the public they will build more roads and build them faster.

Kucharski said managers at VDOT failed to monitor costs of construction projects, did not ensure vital information was shared among divisions within the agency and failed to notice it was on track to overspend available money.

He said the department does not adequately track maintenance costs for its more than 56,000 miles of interstate, primary and secondary roads, preferring instead to guess how much maintenance money will be required each year.

Gov. Mark Warner, who demanded the audit earlier this year after taking office, praised the report for documenting "very significant cash management problems" at the agency. "We have a new management team in place at VDOT" and they have adopted a "fiscally responsible program," he said.

Warner said 35 of the report's 50 recommendations to improve financial management at the agency currently are being implemented.

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