This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Cellerino Bernardino and Thomas Downs
The Government Infrastructure and Transportation Committee of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Transition Team was composed of more than 30 volunteers from government agencies, planning, consulting and engineering firms, labor unions, advocacy, civic, and industry organizations, and neighborhood associations. It was co-chaired by national transportation and infrastructure expert, and former Amtrak CEO, New Jersey Transportation Commissioner, Federal Transit Administration Executive Director, and D.C. City Administrator Thomas Downs; and former management and strategy consultant, D.C. DPW Director, and current Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation Vice President Cellerino Bernardino. The committee divided its work among five subcommittees: Motor Vehicles, Public Works, Transportation Infrastructure, Snow Program, and Environment. The Committee assessed the capacity, organizational structure, strategic direction and priorities, operational effectiveness, and customer perception of the District departments and agencies responsible for planning, building, maintaining, and regulating critical transportation infrastructure, protecting the environment, and building a sustainable District of Columbia. The Committee recommended change strategies and specific initiatives for aligning resource allocation with Mayor Gray’s policy priorities as well as improving the responsiveness, transparency and cost effectiveness of transportation infrastructure and environmental services.
The Committee Leadership The Government Infrastructure and Transportation Committee of Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s Transition Team was composed of more than 30 volunteers from government agencies, planning, consulting and engineering firms; labor unions; advocacy, civic, and industry organizations; and neighborhood associations. It was co-chaired by national transportation and infrastructure expert and former Amtrak CEO, New Jersey Transportation Commissioner, Federal Transit Administration Executive Director, and D.C. City Administrator Thomas Downs; and former management and strategy consultant, D.C. DPW Director, and current Fort Lincoln New Town Corporation Vice President Cellerino Bernardino. The committee divided its work among five subcommittees.
Purview The committee assessed the capacity, organizational structure, strategic direction and priorities, operational effectiveness, and customer perception of the District departments and agencies responsible for planning, building, maintaining, and regulating critical transportation infrastructure; protecting the environment; and building a sustainable District of Columbia. The committee recommended change strategies and specific initiatives for aligning resource allocation with Mayor Gray’s policy priorities as well as improving the responsiveness, transparency, and cost-effectiveness of transportation infrastructure and environmental services.
Methodology The committee co-chairs, subcommittee leaders, and members interviewed agency directors and key management and technical staff and met with Council members and staff, officials of federal agencies providing funding and oversight, and representatives of advocacy, industry, and community organizations. They examined reports, budgets, plans, and audits; consulted national experts and officials in other jurisdictions; and reviewed public input garnered via town-hall meetings and e-mail exchanges.
Findings and Recommendations Motor Vehicle Regulation: While the convenience of some DMV services has improved in recent years with an increase in provision of online features and an extension of expiration
periods for some credentials, wait times and customer complaints have increased. District residents have been slow to embrace online processing options, and the public information function that would educate users about online services was eliminated. The closing of the Brentwood Service Center without provision of alternatives has resulted in longer lines at the remaining DMV facilities. At the same time, the DMV faces mandatory implementation of a major national initiative. Specific findings/recommendations include: Issue: The District faces a federally mandated deadline of May 11, 2011 for implementation of “REAL ID,” a more secure driver’s license and non-driver ID. • Recommendation: Maintain $3.046M in FY 2011 capital funding to contract for development of the mandated secure credential and implement centralized versus over-the-counter credential issuance to ensure security. Recommendation: Restore and adequately fund/staff the DMV’s public education and outreach function, which will be critical to avoiding longer wait times and frustrated customers with implementation of the federally mandated secure credential.
Issue: The closing of the Brentwood Service Center has resulted in longer lines and wait times and increased customer complaints, while DMV’s online service offerings are underutilized. • Recommendation: Re-focus on the customer experience by optimizing the number, location, and design of service centers based on customer research/feedback and performance data; expand the Penn Branch Service Center, relocate the Georgetown Service Center, and maintain 301 C Street NW as the Adjudication Services location. Recommendation: Institute regular customer-satisfaction surveys at each service center; develop and track performance measures/targets for key customersatisfaction parameters, not just workload. Recommendation: Promote use of online services via public education/outreach and incentives for choosing online vs. in person transactions.
Public Works: The Department of Public Works enjoys a generally positive reputation in the community for delivering scheduled services on time, and has a dedicated and highly motivated workforce with a results-oriented, “can-do” culture. However the last several years have seen disinvestment in DPW’s mission-critical heavy equipment, and a loss of the geographically distributed facilities where equipment was stored and from which it was deployed. These trends risk a return to the situation of the 1990’s, when a lack of working trucks and other equipment
made it impossible to perform basic sanitation and snow removal services on a consistent basis. Specific findings/recommendations include: Issue: DPW’s fleet-replacement program is underfunded for light vehicles and missioncritical equipment including trash packers, street sweepers, transfer-station loaders and tow trucks, making regularly scheduled vehicle replacement based on useful life impossible. • Recommendation: Provide $10 million annually in Master Lease funding to refresh the fleet in accordance with industry best practices. Recommendation: Expand FleetShare and reduce by 200 the non-mission-critical fleet of light vehicles for a savings of $680,000 annually.
Issue: Over the last decade DPW has been forced out of nine strategically located equipment and operations yards around the District so the land could be sold for economic development. The result is fewer facilities which are inadequately sized to house DPW operations. An increasing number of vehicles must therefore be stored outdoors, exposed to the elements, and travel distances to the neighborhoods served are longer. • Recommendation: Start now to identify, find funding for, plan for, and secure strategically located sites for year-round protected equipment storage (leaf, landscaping and snow programs) in addition to the current DPW facility at 1431 Okie Street NE.
Issue: Most Supercans used for weekly solid-waste collection in the outer ring are past their useful life and many are damaged beyond repair. Residents are unwilling to pay for replacement cans as current District policy requires. As a result they continue to use damaged cans or use plastic bags and other non-secure alternative containers. This contributes to spillage, and attracts rats and illegal dumping. • Recommendation: Provide $4.5 million to replace Supercans, and develop a longer term solution for this recurring issue.
Transportation: The District’s transportation capital program, because of known issues, received great scrutiny during the transition, and the subcommittee that focused on it benefited from the knowledge and expertise of a representative of the D.C. CFO’s office and a former D.C. Associate Treasurer who is a municipal-finance expert and Wall Street consultant. The level of resources available for transportation infrastructure has increased dramatically since the mid -1990’s when the District government, near bankruptcy, was unable to meet the local match for federal transportation funds. Over the last decade the D.C. Department of Transportation (DDOT), which manages the District’s transportation infrastructure and capital
program, has been granted new sources of dedicated revenue and unprecedented flexibility to fund projects from multiple sources with streamlined approval processes. Over the last several years, DDOT’s management has skirted accountability and mismanaged the transportation capital program, violating District law. DDOT has undertaken high-profile projects without adequate planning or funding, leaving the Gray Administration with incomplete and underfunded projects. For example, trolley tracks have been installed on H Street NE without provision for electric power, a storage/maintenance facility, or a way for the trolleys to turn around. The three trolleys that were purchased cannot be used because they do not meet federal ADA requirements. Federal funding assistance for the H Street segment is not available because DDOT proceeded without doing required environmental studies. The cost to complete just this segment, not to mention a larger system, is unclear. The transportation subcommittee also prepared a separate report on improving the livability of the District. This report recommended improvements in bicycle and pedestrian access and safety, and recommended restructuring of parking management. Specific findings/recommendations include: Issue: Lack of transparency. DDOT maintains over 20 funding sources without a single source document that permits cross-walking planning and financial documents. DDOT has been using the WMATA subsidy to fund project and operating costs as reimbursable projects (e.g., trolleys, the Circulator), without Council and congressional approval -- a violation the Home Rule Act. DDOT does not comply with reprogramming and budgetallocation processes that are required under D.C. law. Recommendation: Simplify DDOT funding sources by directing DDOT revenues to the Highway Trust Fund or Local Transportation Fund and allow the reminder to support operations from the General Fund Recommendation: Create budget transparency by: • Including HTF projects in CIP comparison of agency budgets before Council vote. Using same project titles and descriptions in federal and local plans (TIP and CIP). Showing all DDOT capital funding on one CIP agency summary page. Establishing a separate line item for the Circulator subsidy in DDOT budget.
Issue: Lack of accountability and financial discipline. While other agencies have been required to reduce capital personnel expenses, DDOT’s increased by 47% between FY 2005 and FY 2010. Disallowed Highway Trust Fund capital expenditures increased to 54% of expenditures, representing a loss of federal aid for projects and DDOT not maximizing all available dollars. DDOT’s records show 25% of active projects having negative funds
balances -- which suggests Anti-Deficiency Act violations. Multiple capital projects/contracts for the same project obscure the purpose and cost of major projects and activities. Recommendation: Apply controls on project spending by: • • • • Enforcing Anti-Deficiency Act. Adhering to Home Rule Act budgeting-process requirements Assessing staffing levels to realign with program delivery. Ensuring appropriate capital charges - (capital funds should not be used for operating expenses).
Issue: Long-range financial and project planning is inadequate to ensure the District’s transportation network is in a state of good repair. The FY 2011-FY2016 capital program is based on deliberately overstated federal earmarks -- nearly $1 billion, when only $150 million has been provided over the last 6 years. Preliminary estimates for mega-projects (e.g., trolleys, S. Capitol St. Bridge) range from $2.9 billion to $3.1 billion. There has been no recognition of funding constraints; large projects have been undertaken without credible funding sources. Recommendation: Confirm the financial viability of mega-projects (e.g., trolleys; S. Capitol Street Bridge) and set priorities. Recommendation: Identify minimum funding requirements for core capital program (state of good repair, both local and federal) and related staffing and equipment needs. Recommendation: Develop realistic financial plans, with core needs accommodated first.
Issue: Responsibility for parking is spread over multiple departments. As a result, several independent initiatives involving new meter technology and an ill-advised attempt to develop an in-house automated ticket processing and parking-management system are underway. • Recommendation: Consolidate responsibility for parking management in DDOT. Extend current ticket processing and delinquent collections contracts to provide time to select high tech meter technologies to deploy, and to deploy them via a single integrator who can be held accountable for their functionality and reliability. Abandon in house attempts to develop ticket processing and parking management software systems. Such attempts have proven to be fruitless and wasteful in every other jurisdiction where they’ve been attempted.
Snow Program: The District’s snow program has benefitted over the last decade from a dramatic increase in resources since the lean years of the 1990’s. Back then, limited equipment required residents to wait until plows finished salting/plowing the major arteries before even getting to neighborhood streets. Today the number of light plows available for use in neighborhoods from the outset of a snow event outnumbers the all plows available in the 1990’s. However over the last several years funding to replace trucks used for snow removal has not been maintained. As a result trucks past their useful life -- some a decade old -- remain in use, resulting in frequent breakdowns and higher maintenance costs. If this trend continues, the District will not be able to maintain the high level of snow response service that residents have come to expect. The committee also found that the leadership role for snow removal was not assigned to the agency with the bulk of the responsibility for snow removal. Specific findings/recommendations include: Issue: The District’s snow fleet is unreliable and expensive to maintain because 70% of its vehicles are at or past their useful life. • Recommendation: Allocate $3.5 million in FY 2011 capital funds for April 2011 purchase of 24 heavy plows; institute annual vehicle replacement based on useful life.
Issue: DDOT has the lead responsibility for snow even though DPW provides the bulk of equipment and drivers and salts/plows the majority of the city. • Recommendation: Delegate lead management responsibility for snow to DPW via Mayor’s Order.
Issue: DPW must advance non-snow funds for snow removal expenses and wait for intraDistrict reimbursement from DDOT and other agencies. This diverts funding from DPW programs, and historically DPW has rarely been fully reimbursed. • Recommendation: Eliminate the intra-District reimbursement process and provide adequate funding for the snow program up front in DPW’s budget, allocated and available based on seasonal needs.
Issue: When snowfall is great enough to require removal and disposal of snow, adequate disposal options are not available. Current environmental laws prohibit the dumping of snow in the District’s waterways, and the availability of adequate disposal space at facility parking lots and other large open areas is uncertain. • Recommendation: Start now to identify snow disposal sites and negotiate agreements for their use during next year’s snow season.
Environment: DDOE can draw on several strengths as this administration begins, including a commitment to building the District’s “green” image, a knowledgeable staff with minimal management vacancies, strong financial systems and controls in place, links to federal regulators and publicly popular programs already in place (such as LIHEAP and River Smart Homes). But it also faces multiple challenges in reductions of local positions, perception and reality of the scope of its duties beyond its regulatory role, lack of coordination with other agencies and business-unfriendly uncertainty surrounding its regulatory structure. Specific findings/recommendations include: Issue: DDOE is well positioned to move beyond regulatory responsibilities to help the District’s effort to create “green” jobs and a green-job-friendly workforce. To date, DDOE has made modest efforts and had little success in this area. • Recommendation: Create and staff an Office of the Green Economy within DDOE, and charge it with developing a master plan for the creation and growth of green jobs and businesses. Recommendation: Authorize the use of up to $2 million of energy trust fund, bag fee, and/or stormwater fee revenues to develop partnerships with, and match grants from, UDC, DOES, DMPED, U.S. DOE, U.S. DOI, and U.S. EPA, with a goal of creating a minimum of 1,000 new “green” jobs in the District by the end of 2011 at an average cost of $2,000/job.
Issue: DDOE has developed a reputation in the business community for exceeding its regulatory authority and for failing to seek business input or consider the economic impacts of its decisions. The agency failed to promulgate and seek Council review of implementing rules and regulations as the Act that created it required, and has favored “policies” over rulemaking when imposing new requirements -- thus limiting Council and public input and review, damaging the agency’s credibility, and creating uncertainty as to what is required. • Recommendation: Undertake an assessment of DDOE’s regulatory authority, determine where there was inadequate public input or Council review, and propose a rulemaking package to replace internal, sometimes unwritten, policies. Recommendation: Appoint an “Advisory Board” for DDOE made up of representatives from government, environmental organizations, the business community and the general public to foster transparency in DDOE’s development of policies, regulations, initiatives, and programs by ensuring that a diversity of input is sought and considered.
Issue: The federal government has expressed an interest in partnering with the District on many issues related to our environmentally sensitive areas, such as Anacostia clean-up. The
District has failed to complete federally grant-funded work and has not developed working partnerships with the U.S. EPA and DOI. • Recommendation: Meet with EPA, Interior, and other involved federal agencies to form working partnerships, prioritize cleanup efforts, and agree on joint funding and divisions of responsibilities.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.