Utah DOT looks to change its ways after hushed settlement

State legislators demand reform, and agency seems willing to comply

November 19, 2010

Utah state legislators want the Utah DOT to stop making under-cover settlements.

On Nov. 17, the Transportation Interim Committee endorsed a bill that would force the transportation agency to get the go-ahead from the governor for any payouts more than $100,000.

The move is in reaction to the Utah DOT executing a $13 million settlement to a contractor that finished No. 2 in the bidding for work on I-15. The Utah DOT did not report the deal to the state legislature or the governor.

“We want transparency and openness, and in the case of the settlement, I don’t think we had that,” said state Rep. Julie Fisher, who chairs the House committee.

Utah DOT Deputy Director Carlos Braceras told the Transportation Interim Committee that the agency is changing its bid review procedures in light of the hushed settlement, and said communication with the governor has been solid since the incident.

Under the new bid procedures, officials will not know the names of contractors involved and will look at advantages and disadvantages before making a recommendation.