The state Department of Transportation is looking to streamline and modernize through a new initiative called PennDOT Next Generation. “We’re going to continue to look department-by-department to make sure we’re not spending the same dollar twice, and see if we can go across agency lines to reduce costs,” PennDOT Secretary Barr Schoch explained to the House and Senate Transportation Committees.
Schoch says four initial pilot projects will produce annual savings of $7-million. 30-current projects could save the state anywhere from $25 – $75-million a year.
Some of the projects already saving money include an electronic permitting system for Highway Occupancy Permits and a revised bridge inspection policy. Current projects are investigating more efficient use of winter materials and the regionalization of transit providers.
The administrative savings may be a drop in the bucket compared to the state’s $3.5-billion dollar annual transportation funding gap, but House Transportation Chair Rick Geist (R-Blair) tells reporters it’s important. “I think it’s wonderful when it comes to the bureaucratic inspection and self-inspection of how to do things better,” Geist explains.
Geist is calling for legislation to move all transportation functions under PennDOT and out of other agencies. “We have stuff that’s all over state government,” he explains.
Lawmakers will be receiving a summary report of PennDOT Next Generation at the end of the year, and it will include a series of legislative recommendations.