OPE audit report commends ITD for 'aggressive' response

ITD responded swiftly and aggressively to address recommendations of a 2009 performance audit requested by the Idaho Legislature, according to an Office of Performance Evaluation progress report issued Monday (March 28). A two-year summary of progress shows the department has met most of the actions identified and is making steady progress on the remaining items.

“The Office of Performance Evaluations’ (OPE) follow-up report issued Monday was very complimentary about our response and our continuing efforts to improve the department,” said ITD Director Brian Ness. “It also tells us something we already know … that we still have some work to do.

“The audit provides a solid foundation for our drive to get better. But it cannot be viewed as a check-box exercise where we complete the task and move on. These operational practices must become part of our culture.

“We have come a long way the past two years, and much of the credit belongs to Deputy Director Scott Stokes. He did a great job outlining the steps we needed to take and in moving the department forward. I want to thank him for his leadership and also acknowledge the broad support he received from ITD staff. It really was a team effort.”

Stokes served as acting director for nearly a year before Ness assumed the position in January 2010. In his interim position, Stokes was responsible for creating and publishing an Annual Accountability Report, initiated development of a statewide plan that linked the department’s strategic plan with the State Transportation Improvement Program and corridor plan, and began work on acquiring management systems.

Director Ness helped to bring some of those initiatives together the past year and ensure the momentum continues. He and Transportation Board Chairman Darrell Manning discussed the audit report with legislators on the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee early this week.

“Many recommendations have been completed and a number of recommendations designed for long-term change are in the process of being implemented,” according to independent auditors who evaluated ITD’s progress.

“Our conclusion is that the department has aggressively pursued the audit recommendations made in the 2009 audit. In each category, we evaluated every recommendation in detail and found a degree of progress on each, and compliance with the Governor’s Executive Order.”

The follow-up report indicated ITD has implemented or partially implemented 40 out of 44 recommendations identified in the 2009 performance audit.

Evaluators recommended that ITD continue to work on four major areas:

1. Oversight of funding for local roads
2. Finalize the department’s strategic plan
3. Integrate separate planning processes and documents, and
4. Seek alternative funding sources

“Using the recommendations from the Governor’s Transportation Task Force as a start, the decision-makers should continue to seek out and identify traditional and non-traditional sources of revenues for funding preservation and maintenance of highways and bridges,” the report suggests.

“The 2009 OPE performance evaluation gave us a good starting point to make significant changes and improve the department from top to bottom,” Ness said. “The follow-up report tells us how far we have come and indicates the steps we need to keep taking. I am very pleased with our efforts to become the best transportation department in the country.”

Published 4-1-2011