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Dibble & Hornstein letter to Zelle July 18, 2013

Dibble & Hornstein letter to Zelle July 18, 2013

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Dibble & Hornstein letter to Zelle July 18, 2013
Dibble & Hornstein letter to Zelle July 18, 2013

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Minnesota SenateMinnesota Houseof Representatives
State Capitol75 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. BlvdSt. Paul, MN 55155
Senator D. Scott Dibble
Representative Frank Hornstein
July 18, 2013Commissioner Charles A. ZelleMinnesota Department of Transportation395 John Ireland BlvdSt. Paul, MN 55155Dear Commissioner Zelle:Thank you very much for your letter of June 5th, and for meeting personally with us on July 8th.We appreciate your responsiveness to our concerns regarding the internal audit of MnDOT'sOffice of Civil Rights and its management of the Disadavantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program.This memo is to memorialize our conversation and our understanding of commitments on your  part.They are as follows:MnDOT will undertake a thorough process for attracting the best possible newcoordinator of the program, including an assessment of what, exactly, the positiondemands. We discussed MN DOT's recruitment of an individual with strongadministrative, public relations and political skills.We have received the announcement of 
changes to MnDOT’s organizational structureand note that the OCR reports directly to MnDOT’s chief counsel, with a dotted line
reporting relationship to you. This is part of your commitment to elevate the DBE program to ensure that its functions are more central to the core mission of the agencyand so that it will receive the necessary oversight, support and resources to succeed in itsresponsibilities.We heard assurances that record keeping issues would continue to be addressed via a newsystem that has been acquired that ensures that documents are not misplaced, sensitivedata is not breached, and information can be tracked easily by staff and other appropriatestakeholders.
We raised issues about both overall and project specific goal setting procedures in theDBE program and we agreed that improvements in methodology, standardization andtraining is a key priority (and that some of this is already underway).An important point of discussion was the need for MnDOT to provide much moredetailed information about project participation rates and provide for better accountingand reporting of those rates.We raised issues regarding the conflict of interest between the program's monitoring andenforcement functions and its mission to increase participation rates. However, based onyour letter of June 5th and our July 8th discussion, it remains unclear how MnDOTintends to address the conflict of interest issue. The issue was highlighted in the MnDOTinternal audit report as important, and the Legislative Auditor has indicated he thinks it isa valid issue that needs to be addressed by MnDOT. Therefore, we request that youcommunicate to us
 preferably in writing
how you intend to address the issue.You committed to keeping us up to date on the agencies activities and progress onmaking necessary changes and improvements to the office and its programs. We will, inturn, share any and all information with our committee members, as we have done todate.You agreed to meet with and consider whether any service providers external to MnDOTmay be able to bring value to this work.You will keep the Legislative Auditor apprised of the findings of your personnelinvestigation.We agreed that given the seriousness of the issues involved and the ineffectiveness of  past efforts to address them, a follow-up independent review of the Office of the CivilRights and the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program should be conducted in thefuture. If possible, it should be conducted by the Office of the Legislative Auditor but, if 
that is not possible, it would be acceptable for the review to be conducted by MnDOT’s
Office of Internal Audit. In the meantime, MnDOT and legislative leadership willcontinue to keep informed and make use of the services, advice and expertise of theOffice of the Legislative Auditor.We look forward to our on-going dialogue with you regarding improving the DBE program atMnDOT, and will schedule a follow-up meeting during the 3rd quarter of this year to monitor  progress reforming the functioning of this vital program.Sincerely,D. Scott Dibble, Chair Frank Hornstein, Chair Senate Transportation & Public Safety Committee House Transportation Finance Committee

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