Committee OKs Miramant’s bill to save money on DOT contracting

Posted: April 07, 2017 | Senator Miramant

AUGUSTA — The Legislature’s Transportation Committee on Thursday recommend the passage of LD 960, a bill by Sen. Dave Miramant, D-Camden, that requires the Maine Department of Transportation to use state employees and resources for the design and engineering of public works projects financed by state bonds, rather than hiring third-party contractors.

The bill, “An Act to Use State Employees and Resources for Transportation Bond Projects,” was approved by the committee in a party line vote, with 7 Democrats supporting it and 6 Republicans opposed.

DOT often utilizes third-party contractors design, engineering and planning of public works that could easily be done using existing DOT staff and resources. This legislation requires the department to use existing employees and resources to perform any project financed by bonding, to the extent practicable.

“DOT has a staff of engineers who understand Maine’s roads, bridges, and weather challenges. We should be utilizing their expertise and saving the state money instead of using third-party contractors,” said Miramant. “I am glad the Transportation Committee agreed and pushed this bill forward.”

Jonathan French, a civil engineer for the DOT’s highway program and resident of Hallowell, spoke in favor of the bill at the public hearing last week. According to documents he presented, the rate for a DOT engineer was nearly half of that of a contracted engineer. He also stressed the importance of using current employees as a means of improving  innovation and institutional knowledge.

The bill will go before the full Legislature in the coming weeks.