Cost-effectiveness evaluations performed by the Connecticut Department of Transportation (DOT) in 2019, which indicated Connecticut could achieve significant savings by not contracting with outside consultants, were based on faulty math, according to a new report by the Auditors of Public Accounts.

“The evaluations implied that it is considerably more expensive to utilize consultants rather than having DOT employees perform the work,” the auditor wrote. “However, we found that DOT’s evaluations did not consider all potential costs.”

According to the 2019 Potential Department of Transportation Savings Report, DOT would have saved $324.6 million over three years had it used state employees for inspection and engineering services instead of outside consultants.

However, the auditor’s report says the calculations used in the cost-effectiveness evaluations “appeared arbitrary, and the calculations reflected a significant mathematical error.”

The auditors noted the DOT report did not account for state employee pay raises, supervision of those employees who would perform the work, did not account for billing the same number of hours to perform the work or paid leave, and that state employees could be left “idle during slower periods if it increased staffing levels to cope with peak workloads.”

“Inaccurate cost-effectiveness evaluations can adversely influence decision makers who rely on them,” the auditors wrote.

The DOT’s findings were highlighted in the media and in testimony before the Transportation Committee in 2020, when DOT engineers and presidents of the Connecticut State Employees Union SEIU Local 2001, testified in favor of House Bill 5261, which would have required DOT engineers to inspect highway and bridge construction.

The Connecticut CREATES report, commissioned by Gov. Ned Lamont to find potential cost-savings in state government, found that a more streamlined hiring process in state government could prevent the use of “expensive outside consultants.”

The CT DOT is looking to ramp up hiring as the state prepares for an influx of federal transportation dollars and needs to be able to meet the project workload with both workforce and matching dollars. According to the latest workforce data report in January, there were 469 job vacancies at DOT.

DOT agreed with the auditors’ findings, saying they were using the Office of Policy and Management’s (OPM) methodology and the “Office of Finance has formally shared this finding to OPM and have offered to work with OPM to develop a methodology that will consider all associated costs when creating the CEEs and CBAs.”

“Statutorily, it is OPM’s responsibility to revise the template utilized by all agencies,” DOT wrote.

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Marc worked as an investigative reporter for Yankee Institute and was a 2014 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow. He previously worked in the field of mental health is the author of several books and novels,...

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