Reorganization ahead for state transportation

N.C. Transportation Secretary Lyndo Tippett said Thursday the Department of Transportation is being reorganized to make it more efficient, transparent and accountable.

“We sought input from our employees and an outside consultant, and identified our strengths and areas that needed improvement,” Tippett said in a news release. “We have already implemented measures to make the department more results-driven, and more improvements will come.”

A newly created inspector general's office – a position yet to be filled – is expected to strengthen the N.C. DOT's internal auditing and performance monitoring.

Dan DeVane, Tippett's chief deputy secretary, will take on broader authority as chief operating officer, overseeing the highway division and other department operations.

A new department organization chart incorporates other changes the agency has adopted during an 18-month-long process of self-examination.

N.C. DOT paid McKinsey & Co. $3.6million for its help in reorganizing the department, which has 13,000 employees.

Tippett initially sought to keep secret the terms of McKinsey's contract and the details of its findings. Under pressure from critics and finally under orders from Gov. Mike Easley, Tippett released the contract last summer and McKinsey published a report last fall.

Legislative leaders had pushed for changes at N.C. DOT, saying they had lost faith in Tippett's department after lapses including a botched concrete paving and widening project on Interstate 40 in Durham County, which required a $21.6million repair job.

In an effort to speed the pace and cut the cost of upgrading or replacing thousands of aging highway bridges across the state, the department said last week that it had created a more efficient organizational structure for its bridge management program. Another newly created position gives more prominence to strategic planning.

The 14 highway divisions that cover the state map will be rechristened transportation divisions to provide a better local focus that includes transit, rail, aviation and bicycle and pedestrian projects.

“Reducing layers within the department and streamlining the way we deliver projects will reduce the amount of time it takes to get projects on the ground, translating into both time and dollar savings down the road,” Roberto Canales, deputy secretary for transit, said in a news release.

Canales is overseeing the department's restructuring effort.