Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Former Florida DOT Leader Joins Parsons

from MARKETWIRE, 05/10/2011

(the following two paragraphs were only the beginning of this particular article)

Parsons is pleased to announce that Kevin J. Thibault has joined the firm as Vice President and Market Development Manager for state transportation programs in the United States. In this role, he will be responsible for developing Parsons' relationships in strategic markets as well as other multimodal transportation initiatives.

Mr. Thibault has more than 25 years of professional engineering experience in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining Parsons, he was the executive director for the Florida Rail Enterprise, a unit within the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) responsible for implementing the state's high-speed rail program. He also served as the assistant secretary for engineering and operations for the FDOT where he served as the agency's chief operating officer for more than 7,100 employees with an annual budget in excess of $6 billion. He also served as the interim executive director and production director of Florida's Turnpike Enterprise, the state's largest toll entity.

Joel’s comments:

Rant of the day....

Surprise, surprise; yet another former government-sector transportation executive has joined the ranks of a large private-sector transportation engineering firm. If you were to examine the employee roster at virtually any large engineering firm in the state of Florida, you’ll likely find a former head of a “district” DOT office, or a former “deputy director” of the state DOT, or a former “secretary” of the state DOT. It is highly likely that this same fact holds true in other states in the U.S. It is also not surprising that private-sector lobbyists, who represent “engineering firms” in the state, are very active in lobbying the state “house” and the state “senate.”

Which brings me to one of the things that makes absolutely no sense to me (and that drives me crazy), as a taxpayer, especially when you consider the fact that Florida government is strapped for funds. In the State of Florida, engineering firms do not have to, nor do they, compete based on “price.” They only have to compete based on “qualifications” and on “their overall understanding of the scope of a project and their approach to meeting the requirements of a project.” In other words, it (being selected or not selected to perform engineering services on a state DOT project) mostly “boils down to” …. “who you know.”

If the Florida legislature wasn’t so-damn-deeply in the pockets of engineering firm lobbyists, Florida’s taxpayers would save a lot of money. Florida’s taxpayers would save hundreds of millions of dollars if the rules were changed to force engineering firms to compete on the basis of price. The same thing very likely applies to many other states.

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