Caltrans on Feb. 5 released the first issue of "The Mile Marker: A Caltrans Performance Report," a straightforward accounting of how the department is performing as it improves and protects California's transportation system.
Is Caltrans efficiently managing its funding and resources? Are California's highways and bridges getting safer? What is Caltrans doing to relieve traffic congestion, fix potholes, or reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Anyone can easily access the report and find out.
"The Department of Transportation is headed in a new direction that focuses on improving its performance," said California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly. "The Mile Marker report demonstrates a serious commitment to accountability and communicating what is working--and what must be improved."
“The Mile Marker delivers information that the public wants in plain language,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “It raises the bar on Caltrans’ transparency and accountability and gives us another way to clearly communicate our performance.”
Publication of The Mile Marker comes on the heels of last week's release of a wide-reaching assessment of Caltrans operations conducted by the State Smart Transportation Initiative, which found, among other things, that the department must improve communication with stakeholders, the legislature and the public. This publication is part of Caltrans' commitment to improving communication and transparency. By openly and honestly identifying the areas for improvement, Caltrans is positioning itself to implement lasting reforms and better public service.
This issue shows that Caltrans needs to make improvements in certain aspects related to its key performance areas: safety, mobility, sustainability, delivery and maintenance. Caltrans met 4 of its 15 performance measures during this reporting period; however, progress is being made on 13 of the 15 metrics.
“I carried SB 486 last year to increase transparency and accountability at Caltrans,” Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord) said. “The Mile Marker begins to carry out the spirit of that bill by releasing quantitative performance data on Caltrans projects to the public. It is important that the taxpayers know how effectively their money is being spent. I look forward to working with Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly and other administration officials to further improve the performance of Caltrans.”
"I am very pleased with the department's first edition of this ongoing report. I believe ‘no-surprises’ reporting will go a long way toward demonstrating that the department is worthy of the public's trust," said Assembly Member Bonnie Lowenthal, chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee. "I applaud the use of data and performance measures to demonstrate the department's performance and ultimately to manage the department's resources, and I look forward to continued work with the department on these important efforts."
This report is an extension of reforms begun by Dougherty since being appointed director in 2012. That year, Dougherty initiated a program review to evaluate the entire organization and make it more efficient. Caltrans incorporated input from local transportation partners and worked with the independent State Smart Transportation Initiative group. Caltrans is using the data from that review as the foundation for a new five-year strategic plan, with clearly defined performance goals.
“We support critical assessments of Caltrans and look at them as opportunities to highlight our achievements and improve in areas where we can do better,” Dougherty added.
As part of the program review, Dougherty has also made significant changes to Caltrans’ organizational structure by merging divisions and functions to make it a leaner, better-organized agency. He is strengthening Caltrans’ relationship with other agencies by changing the way it does business as it works with counties and cities to improve transportation across California. Caltrans also put into action a process called enterprise risk management, which helps managers identify potential issues and possible solutions to become more effective and efficient.