DOT reform underway

RALEIGH The DOT's newly appointed chief is pushing the reform. He said he knows why many North Carolinians have a negative opinion of his department.

"The perception has been that there's been too many decisions made in the back room by a small handful of people, and decisions get changed around, money gets moved around without much discussion in public," said Gene Conti, DOT secretary. "And that's gonna change."

Gov. Perdue made that clear with the executive order she signed her first day on the job.

Perdue's order prohibits DOT board members from voting on individual highway construction projects and turns that power over to Conti.

"I'm very hopeful, and I actually do believe, that this is going to change the DOT paradigm," the Governor said in January.

The order calls for a more open and efficient way of doing business at the DOT. That's something the Governor said the citizens demand and deserve after enduring shoddy highway construction and expensive repairs.

Conti said his reform means looking at the needs of North Carolina as a whole and deciding where to spend money based on a five year plan for roadbuilding.

"A lot of people around the state thought if you got on the Board of Transportation that meant you could deliver projects to your area. And we're changing that," Conti explained.

The DOT board will now have more of an oversight role. That will also affect who gets picked to serve on it.

"Are you interested in making policy and making good strategic decisions and evaluating the department's performance? Or are you interested in a project in your local area?" Conti asked.

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