ITD completed an extensive review of the way it delivers products and services and will continue to look for innovative ways to make operations even more efficient in the future.
Idaho Transportation Board members reviewed a preliminary report on efficiencies that cover ITD operations from 1994 to 2012. The 50-page report, presented by Jeff Stratten of the ITD Communications Office, looked at the department’s efficiencies through three eras:
A close-out report that covered measures introduced and completed from
1994 to 2003
“Many of the successful approaches we have implemented the past few years will become standards for the way we function,” said Director Pam Lowe. “It has become very clear that we must continue to refine and build on our efficiency measures, and we must aggressively pursue new ideas that ensure revenue is stretched as far as possible.”
The efficiency measures focused on improving customer service, offsetting the costs of inflation and redirecting savings to the department’s next highest priority.
Most striking in the report was estimated savings of nearly $51 million that will be achieved through an innovative approach to highway design and construction. Practical Design emphasizes the development of projects that are appropriate to the “context” or physical environment for which they are intended.
“We are always looking for new and better ways to operate the department,” Lowe said. “That search led early this year to the prospect of radically rethinking the way we design highway projects – Practical Design.”
The new approach will allow ITD districts greater flexibility in project design, project streamlining without compromising quality and safety, cost savings, and the ability to apply savings to other district projects that improve travel and safety.
“The basic goal is to customize construction projects to fit specific needs rather than using the more expensive ‘one size fits all’ approach,” according to the efficiency report.
Through the current STIP (Statewide Transportation Improvement Program) period that ends in 2012, Practical Design is expected to produce savings of $50.8 million. Savings beyond 2012 will not be as apparent because Practical Design will become a fundamental element of all project design and construction.
The greatest projected savings resulting from Practical Design are expected in districts 5 and 6, estimated at $14.4 million and $11.6 million respectively through 2012.
The efficiency report refers to an analysis by the non-profit Reason Foundation earlier this year that ranks Idaho among the nation's top 10 state transportation departments in terms of overall efficiency.
Although legislative appropriations for the department nearly doubled from 1991 to 2008 (from $247.9 million to $495.7 million), there has been only a modest increase in the number of ITD employees. Over the past 17 years, the department added 75 full-time employees – a growth rate of 4.2 percent. During the same period, other state agencies expanded their number of employees an average of 35 percent.
In the first 10 years (1994-2003) covered by the efficiency report, ITD identified 64 measures that were intended to improve efficiency of operations. Among them were:
Measures initiated from 2003 to 2007 include:
“For every efficiency example listed in the report, there are even more occurring throughout the department,” Lowe said. “That’s why we can say with pride that we continue to deliver transportation products and services in an efficient manner and are good stewards of public resources.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in pulling the efficiencies report together. It is a comprehensive document that required a lot of input and review. I plan to use the report during our legislative outreach meetings and during the legislative session.”
The report will be available soon on the ITD Web page. An announcement will be made when it is published online.