Monday, February 23, 2009

To Better Serve Georgia, the DOT Must Change
by Sonny Perdue, Casey Cagle and Glenn Richardson

Over the last six years, Georgia has invested heavily in transportation improvements, yet commuters are still stuck in traffic and economic development corridors still have not been expanded. As frustrating as it is to acknowledge, we have not achieved the value that we believe Georgians deserve because of a lack of focus, transparency and accountability at the Department of Transportation.

We share a commitment to do better. As the three people most accountable to Georgians, we announced a proposal last week that would completely transform the way we think about delivering transportation solutions in our state and dramatically improve the way transportation projects are planned, constructed and maintained.

The basic premise of this proposal is simple - transportation policy decisions should be made in a strategic manner by people who are representing the best interests of the entire state. And the decisions these people make should be executed in a manner that provides for transparency and accountability to the legislature and the people of Georgia.

The current structure of the DOT fails both of these. By relying on a board that represents congressional districts elected every few years by caucuses of legislators, the existing structure encourages parochial thinking and insulates the agency from those who are elected to serve our citizens. And the fact that this unaccountable board maintains sole discretion over a dedicated funding stream of over $2 billion provides very little transparency to the governor, the legislature and the people of this state that the money they receive is spent in an efficient and strategic manner.

Citizens and legislators alike have expressed their frustration with a lack of progress in transportation in Georgia, and a tangled web of bureaucracy that makes it virtually impossible to hold anyone accountable.

The proposal we have jointly developed will end that confusion.

Combining the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and the State Road and Tollway Authority into the State Transportation Authority will create a lead organization responsible for implementing a clear, understandable plan to address Georgia's statewide needs.

We are committed to standing up a system of transportation project delivery that is more transparent and more accountable. And it demands that a statewide, strategic plan is developed and a mechanism for budget appropriation, which is voted upon by every citizen's state representative and senator, to ensure that plan is implemented.

But most of all, it places the burden of meeting our state's transportation needs in the hands of those elected by and responsible to the people of Georgia. Given that responsibility, we are willing to continue to be accountable to the people of Georgia for the results.


Editor's note: Hello, Georgia.

Yes, we stayed up late for the Oscars, too. It was a great party and today Eleanor Ringel Gillespie says it was one of the best Oscars ever.

Also in Georgia's top news, the future of two nuclear power plants near Augusta took another step at the Capitol. We have a report for you that has comment from many representatives from around the state.

Plus, we profile of Georgia's Second District Congressman Sanford Bishop, who is helping the state's peanut industry fight for its life.

Plus we offer a column from the state's governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the House on why the Department of Transportation can't continue the way it currently does business.

It's a great lineup.

As always, we'd like to hear from you. GONSO is an enterprise founded and staffed by more than two dozen leading journalists and media executives in Georgia. We're providing content free -- for a limited period. Newspapers, broadcasters, bloggers and websites are welcome to use our articles -- please credit the writers and the Georgia Online News Service.

Send your comments and any story ideas to executive editor John Sugg at john.sugg@georgiaonlinenews.org. You can also call us at 800-891-3459.


Today's GONSO

The Oscars: Wondrously Inventive and Well Executed, With a Gloss of Genuine Sentiment

by Eleanor Ringel Cater
Georgia's best film critic loved just about everything in the 81st annual Academy Awards. It wasn't an evening of surprises except for the deft hosting of Hugh Jackman but it was the kind of night Hollywood excels at.

Full Story

Nuclear Finance Bill Breezes through House Committee

by Maggie Lee
A controversial bill that will result in rate hikes for most Georgia Power customers passed its last committee hurdle today and may appear for a House vote as early as Wednesday.

Full Story

Congressman Sanford Bishop: A Powerful Peanut Industry Politico

by Maynard Eaton
Georgia's Second District Congressman Sanford Bishop, who finds himself in the eye of the peanut industry's salmonella storm, has blossomed into a "go-to" guy after eight terms in Congress.

Full Story

SOAPBOX

To Better Serve Georgia, the DOT Must Change

by Sonny Perdue, Casey Cagle and Glenn Richardson
Despite all the money thrown at the problems, Georgians remained trapped behind the wheel with some of the longest commutes in the country. The governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House all agree that the Department of Transportation just can't remain as it is.

Full Story

Tomorrow's Budget
Puff the Magic Drag Lived by a Sea (of Red Ink)
by K. Patrick Jensen
Some Georgia Farmers Look to Africa for their Future
by Nadirah Z. Sabir
Georgia Power and the Power of Paying in Advance
by Hollis Gillespie
The Reality is Outpacing the Distortions About Sunday Liquor Sales
by Jim Tudor

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