Senator Patricia Bates Responds to Release of Audit on Caltrans Maintenance Program

Audit Emphasizes Need for Caltrans Reform
Thursday, March 17, 2016

Senator Patricia Bates (R – Laguna Niguel), a member of the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee, today responded to the release of the nonpartisan State Auditor’s findings from an audit of Caltrans maintenance operations. The audit concerned the methods used by Caltrans to make spending decisions related to its maintenance program.

“The State Auditor’s report raises more disturbing questions about the use of existing transportation tax dollars,” said Bates. “With some in Sacramento talking about raising taxes to repair our roads and bridges, lawmakers should first address the use of existing resources. Simply giving Caltrans more money will not change the status quo. We owe it to taxpayers to reform Caltrans in a way that ensures needed maintenance work is actually performed.”

Among the key findings released by the State Auditor’s office today are:

  • Caltrans' division of maintenance paid $250,000 for development of a budget model for allocating field maintenance funding based on key indicators of maintenance need, but it abandoned the model.
  • Although the model was not implemented, Caltrans reported to the Legislature that it is using the model to allocate funding to its districts.
  • Spending for field maintenance was not consistent with key indicators of need—traffic volume and climate.
  • The maintenance division cannot demonstrate that it promptly performs field maintenance work.
  • Caltrans' weak cost controls over field maintenance work orders create opportunities for fraud, waste and abuse.
  • Although some districts have a higher proportion of the State’s traffic volume, they received a disproportionally lower level of funding than did some districts that have a lower traffic volume.
  • The districts do not effectively manage the service requests they receive from the public and cannot demonstrate that they are promptly performing the requested field maintenance work.

Bates noted that the State Auditor issued recommendations to improve efficiency. She said that she will review the Auditor’s recommendations in detail to determine what next steps are needed to make sure that every existing transportation dollar is spent wisely.