mississippi opinions sunday 1-14

axpayers have good reason to wonder if the Mississippi Department of Transportation is the victim of a vicious effort to undermine the credibility of the agency or an almost villainous abuser of the public trust.

Last month, the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review commonly referred to as the PEER committee released a scathing review of MDOT’s management of the 1987 Four Lane Program and the 1994 Gaming Roads program, among the largest public works projects ever undertaken by state government.

In the PEER committee’s estimation, both highway construction projects have been mismanaged, thereby wasting millions of dollars and causing years of delay. Officials at MDOT particularly its three elected regional commissioners appeared to take the report in stride, as if it were just one more example of outsiders trying to second-guess the experts.

But the report is not a mere exercise in Monday morning quarterbacking. Rather, it raises legitimate concerns about how MDOT has spent or misspent its multimillion-dollar budgets for more than a decade.

The Legislature was almost certain to have given some attention to the management of MDOT this session. The PEER committee report now makes that a certainty. As it should.

MDOT performs one of the most important of all state functions the construction and maintenance of state highways and byways. It can never do that as fast as drivers would like.

But if the Legislature finds that MDOT’s pace has been slowed by it own ineptness, then MDOT will find that it is its own worst enemy.

The Sun Herald,

Biloxi/Gulfport