House Committee Accepts Greater Ohio Recommendation

The Ohio House Government Elections Committee has accepted Greater Ohio Policy Center's recommendation to designate the Ohio Department of Transportation as one of the top-tier government agencies for a performance audit in House Bill 2. Greater Ohio, an advocate for performance audits for state agencies since late 2005, is pleased to have ODOT included with Jobs and Family Services and Education departments in the bill.

Our mission promotes economic and land use redevelopment strategies and policies to position Ohio for long-term, sustainable economic growth. Included in that mission is a need for a balanced transportation portfolio, including funding for highways, ports, rail and transit, which can ultimately help attract economic development and assist in sustainable growth.

Gene Krebs, our senior director of government affairs and policy, presented Greater Ohio’s message to the committee earlier this week, saying: “A performance audit [of ODOT] will provide both the Administration and the General Assembly critical information to help the agency run more efficiently and gave a better assessment of its funding.”

The inclusion of ODOT in HB2 is directly related to one of the recommendations from our report, Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy, which was released in conjunction with the Brookings Institution last year. The report is a “blueprint” for structural changes and state policy reforms intended to bring economic vitality to the state.

One of the report’s recommendations calls for analysis and tracking of ODOT investment decisions on the basis of greatest returns on investment.

Below are some of the reasons we believe ODOT’s HB2 inclusion was imperative:

  • ODOT’s role in economic development is second only to the Ohio Department of Development.
  • A performance audit can take a fresh look at ODOT’s portfolio, and, with the findings, recommendations can be made where deficiencies are noted.
  • A large amount of funding, whether it is gas tax revenues or federal funds, flows through ODOT that must be contracted out making it susceptible to misuse and misappropriation by a variety of personnel.
  • ODOT is facing fiscal collapse.  According to its 2010-2011 Business Plan, the organization faces a $1.5 billion deficit by 2017 – a figure that could be closer to $3.9 billion.

Wednesday HB2 moved to the House Finance Committee for further review. A hearing before the full House is expected next week.  If passed, the bill would then move to the Senate.

If you feel as strongly about this issue as we do, we encourage you to contact your representatives to share your views before next week.

To see Krebs’ testimony, click here.