Miramant bill would save money on DOT contracting

Posted: March 28, 2017 | Senator Miramant

AUGUSTA — A bill by Sen. Dave Miramant, D-Camden, would require 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 — LD 960, “An Act To Use State Employees and Resources for Transportation Bond Projects” — received a public hearing before the Transportation Committee Tuesday.

Currently, DOT utilizes third-party contractors for several 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 our road and weather challenges and are in the best position to have their work move seamlessly into our infrastructure,” said Sen. Miramant. “We need to maintain the department to an appropriate staffing level and reduce the amount of money spent on outside contractors.”

According to documents provided to the committee by Jonathan French, a civil engineer for the DOT’s highway program and resident of Hallowell, the rate for a DOT engineer was nearly half of that of a contracted engineer.

French testified in favor of the measure at the public hearing. In addition to cost savings to the department, he stressed the importance of using current employees as a means of improving  innovation and institutional knowledge.

“I can think of no better investment of state taxpayer money by the Department than in its workforce,” said French. “For every project I have designed there’s always knowledge and experience gained for a future project in order to make it more cost efficient and provide better performance.”

LD 960 faces further action in the Transportation Committee and votes in the House and Senate.