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    Trash talk from ex-DOT chair: Audit findings ‘absurd,’ Perdue’s comments “irresponsible”

     

    david dossDavid Doss of Rome, a member and former chairman of the state Transportation Board, got riled up the other day about the state auditors’ findings of mismanagement at DOT. So he wrote AtlantaUnfiltered to get some things off his chest.

    Auditors said DOT spent billions of dollars that it did not have, which Doss (left) labels “absurd.” And he chided Gov. Sonny Perdue for using the term “Enron accounting” to describe DOT’s cash management procedures.

    Following is Doss’s complete post:

    “In the rush to condemn the Georgia Department of Transportation, fueled by irresponsible comments like “Enron Accounting” from Sonny Perdue, several very critical facts seem to be ignored:

    “1) After numerous audits and investigations, NOT 1 PENNY OF MONEY IS UNACCOUNTED FOR AT GDOT.

    “2) After numerous audits and investigations, NOT 1 PERSON IS SHOWN TO HAVE GAINED PERSONALLY.

    “3) The best indicator for GDOT’s financial condition and money management policy is their bond rating. Surely, if “Enron Accounting” is being used, the bond rating at GDOT must have suffered greatly. Absolutely not! The last GDOT GARVEE bond sale, in which the rating is based upon GDOT’s financial management and condition and not based on the State of Georgia, GDOT received THE HIGHEST BOND RATING THAT GARVEE BONDS CAN RECEIVE.

    “4) Auditors claim the biggest reason for the spike in payments to highway contractors was that GDOT was spending money that it did not have. Absurd! If GDOT was spending money that it did not have, then how did the contractors get paid? Surely GDOT must have been sued for not paying their bills? Surely GDOT must be overdrawn at the bank by hundreds of millions of dollars? Wrong on both counts. I would challenge the Auditors to produce one shred of proof that GDOT was either overdrawn at the bank or failed to pay their contractual obligations to any highway contractor.

    “5) Lastly, there is something evil or sinister implied because payments to several large highway contractors increased from FY’06 – FY’08. Sonny Perdue’s Fast Forward Program compressed 18 years of road projects into just 6 years. What do the bean counters at the Department of Audits expect to happen? When GDOT accelerates the construction program, OBVIOUSLY payments to contractors are going to increase accordingly. But here is the important thing to remember: EVERY CONTRACT WON BY A HIGHWAY CONTRACTOR WAS WON BY SEALED BID, LOW BID PROCESS. Every contract was won fair and square by the lowest bidder.

    “And what about C.W. Matthews? How did they more than double their work for GDOT in only 2 years? Surely there must be something evil and sinister at work here! No, the Auditors failed to mention one small thing that happened during 2006. C.W. Matthews BOUGHT ONE OF THEIR LARGEST COMPETITORS, APAC. At the time, APAC was about the same size company as C.W. Matthews and the APAC contracts became Matthews contracts. It’s like when AT&T bought Bellsouth …. AT&T’s revenues increased overnight!
    So Governor, would you please explain “Enron Accounting” to us?

     

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    21 Responses to “Trash talk from ex-DOT chair: Audit findings ‘absurd,’ Perdue’s comments “irresponsible””

    1. Montana L says:

      Nice.

    2. Confused says:

      Not that our Gov needs help answering Doss’s call for a response. Seems he is doing very well on his own. “Enron accounting” is a most appropriate description, since it is based on not-yet received assets leveraged up to 40 times their actual value. Like every mortal being, Sonny Purdue is not perfect, but he is doing an excellent job of providing the toughest yet “check and balance” to GDOT, the “tail” that has forever waged the “puppy,” being our entire state government. He, at least gained his position by competitive public vote rather than the secret process of the 13 GDOT board members. Who is more accountable?

    3. Marjorie Grayson says:

      I agree with Mr. Doss. If there was “Enron Accounting” then monies would be unaaccounted for in this soap opera. Does DOT need some serious work? yes. But to use a term like “Enron Accounting” is irresponsible in the extreme. No one broke the law here, no monies are missing, etc. Mr. Doss is correct also in that GDOT received the highest bond rating for a GARVEE in its last sale (I work in the financial industry). If DOT was so horribly mismanaged they could have never received that rating. While I do understand Gov. Perdue’s frustration with this department, his appointment of Gena Evans was a disaster. Sorry, that is the consensus across the country, not just GA. She made the New York TImes for heavens sake with her antics. My friends in the industry were calling in amazement that this woman was in charge of anything. They qeustioned the Gov’s integrity for supporting her. I am not privy to the inner workings of the DOT but as someone in the financial industry I pulled the Auditor’s report and that of the Inspector General. What I found most interesting was how much “opinion” there was in these investigations which should have been only fact based. Unfortunately, those “opinions” and not sticking to facts left me wondering how much of these reports were politically motivated. I think quit a bit. Interesting how this report was issued just six weeks after Gena Evans’ successor was named into office. I think it was a political piece designed to justify the outrage displayed by certain political figures over her firing. Gov, you don’t seem like a bad man but your judgement on this one is terribly out of line. Clean up DOT but be responsible in doing so. Mr. Doss made some very strong points.

    4. Maggie Johnson says:

      Ms. Grayson makes a good point – the audit report reads better than a Nora Roberts romance – especially compared to other audit reports which are flat, factual and BOR-R-R-R-RING (to quote Joann Worley). Seriously, if there is a REAL issue shouldn’t it be investigated by a REAL investigative agency instead of a make believe IG that is a political appointee of the Governor, and (dare I reveal it) – a good friend of former Commissioner Evans’. I know one thing, since this Grandma retired, I found that As the World Turns has nothing on the Soap Opera on the Hill. It’s a wonder us state employees EVER got meaningful work done with the comings and goings, ranting and ravings of the politicians.

    5. Isabella says:

      It seems to me this Governor has spent more time trying to fight for and gain control of departments that Constitutionally he doesn’t have control over. Yet, when he gets control, he doesn’t accomplish anything. He fought to have his way at GDOT and transportation building came to a complete halt! After 7 years of Sonny, we are sitting in worsening traffic congestion.
      Now he is screaming about GDOT’s accounting. Wasn’t his Commissioner and her lover GDOT Chairman in charge when all this started?
      Why does Georgia have to do accounting differently from every other state in the country anyway? Why, because Sonny wanted to show a deficit, wanted to show failure at GDOT…..so he could rush in and fix it. Only he couldn’t fix it because he fought for and chose someone who was uniquely unqualified for the job, and, there wasn’t a problem to be fixed, except for the problem of underfunding, which he has ignored his entire term.
      So, then he lost control of GDOT and here we go again with political bashing because he isn’t in control and he has to politically strike back at those who beat him. Here we are nearing his last year in office and all he still seems to be focused on is controlling everything, yet doing nothing…..oh, except for helping people fish. Who needs working roads in Georgia, everybody just go fishing!

    6. Mark says:

      David Doss is telling the cold hard truth – both Evans and Perdue wanted to create a chaotic situation in transportation to further their own agendas. Selected by the GDOT Board with a less than unanimous approval, Evans (then Abraham) proceeds to become involved with Board Member Evans and violates her own ethics standards that she has disciplined employees about earlier. After being found out, and being reaffirmed by the Board, she did damage control with Agency staff and others.

      Under the leadership of Gena, Georgia DOT was in turmoil for two years. First the new Commissioner trashed her staff calling them incompetent and proceeded to replace top level staff with a “super level” of about a half dozen six figure salaried confidants from her previous assignments.

      The plan was to create a deficit by the changing from Cash Flow Forecasting Accounting (Accrual) over to Cash Accounting in 1 year. I bet the J.M. Tull school of accounting teaches that would equal finical disaster (just what they planned), and then there wouldn’t have been negative headlines for GDOT.

      Then all of a sudden senate bill 200 came along (just by coincidence) it would help justify the need for Governance for old do nothing baldy (and others).
      Oops then she got fired! And now Sonny is ticked.

      Georgia DOT has some of the finest, most dedicated professional staff in the country. The transportation system is the envy of many states (without the help of old baldly). Baldly just needs to Go Fish!

    7. The Truth says:

      Mr. Doss is right on target.

      I’m not sure how much this audit cost the tax payers of Georgia, whatever it was was too much. I can’t believe that we are witnessing a state agency (Department of Audits) being used to further both personal and legislative agendas of “power brokers”. Over the past two years we have seen GDOT pencil whipped back to the stone age and the economic life blood of our state (contractors) choked to a point of having to “tap out”. GDOT’s staff has been humiliated by the very appointees who were brought in to tear the place down and the same “power brokers” who commissioned the audit. It’s obvious that GDOT’s “deficits” were fabricated through the abrupt accounting changes and contingencies that were funded at unrealistic levels which provided the “illusion” of insolvency at GDOT.
      It’s time to allow the New Commissioner (Smith) the opportunity to utilize the funding that’s been pigeon holed and combine it with both Stimulus and 2010 Funds to put Georgians back to work. Georgia’s road system is too important to Georgia’s economy and those who work on those roads contribute too much to Georgia’s economy for us to allow GDOT to be held back anymore.
      Russell, you should probably focus more attention on certain $21 million loan that still hasn’t been explained at a certain AG Bank in Houston County, oops, I think we were supposed to forget about that.

    8. Confused says:

      Doss for Governor. Long live GDOT’s reign of power.

    9. William says:

      Right now, the thing that sticks out the most to me is what Doss mentioned in #2, which to me is the most telling: no one at GDOT gained financially from anything over the last several years. If I’m in administration at GDOT, and I move money around, I still make $120k a year, regardless. C’mon, man, that’s not Enron style. The guys at Enron moved money around, padded their pockets, and padded the pockets of their shareholders. Last time I checked, GDOT doesn’t have shareholders, and there’s no one to benefit from “Enron style accounting.” It sounds good in a press release, but it doesn’t hold water. This entire “audit” thing reeks of politics gone bad, and someone trying to leverage political means to a personal end. The fact is, the Governor’s hand picked choice became Commissioner of GDOT (through a very controversial process) and wreaked havoc there for almost 18 months. Any negative reflection on GDOT operations or accounting are a result of that gross lack of leadership. These audits are little more than an attempt to cover up the real issue – the Governor’s lack of ability to appoint qualified people to lead major executive branches. Seems to me like there’s someone else recently who’s had trouble nominating qualified people to lead major executive branches (hint: he was a junior United States Senator just a year ago…)

    10. The Truth says:

      William’s exactly right, thankfully the state DOT board was able to break the strangle hold that the Governor had on it. Georgia’s transportation system and road building industry are obviously under attack by the states highest office. I can’t understand why that office would work so hard to put so many workers out of work during a time when the state needs jobs the most. It’s criminal to think that someone would try to destroy a government agency for political gain. Voters are out of work as a direct result of this fiasco.

    11. BradVN says:

      is there anyway we can turn this around so we can stop the new highway in Rome that is being built over my property which i just bought 4 yrs ago…. my dream house is now going to have a lot of noise and shade to go with it. Stop the madness (oh thanks to my realtor for letting me know about this when buying my house—-Scam? )

    12. Marcus says:

      You people are wasting your breath. Until the “mainstream” media starts digging for the facts instead of serving up what’s handed to them by Perdue, Hinton, Archer, and Evans/Abraham no one will ever get what a cluster this all is. Until then it is inside baseball and none of it matters. Until somebody speaks out for real, this is just a game and about as effective as graffiti on a wall. I dare reporters to REALLY report this – Go Doss!! Woof!! Woof!!! Woof!!! Nice to know someone who has kahunas!

    13. GDOT Family says:

      Doss is on the right track. What we are witnessing is a political witchhunt put on by Sonny Perdue, his appointed puppets Russell Hinton and Liz Archer, and the Queen of Evil Gena Evans. If you know Sonny Perdue, he is one of the most stubborn and vindictive individuals you ever want to meet.What he lacks in intelligence, he more than makes up in his childish bullying. Ask anybody who grew up in Houston County who the biggest bullies were, and the Perdue boys are at the top of the list. Or ask Vince Dooley, who wouldn’t let little Sonny play on his football team, so he has treated Vince like crap ever since he woke up one day and found out he was Governor.
      Here’s the bottom line: Sonny and Gena are “very close”. How close? You decide for yourself. She knows where Sonny’s skeletons are buried because she help bury them. As a payoff, he pushed her for GDOT Commissioner, for which she was clearly overmatched. Sonny sent her to destroy the department so he could play the “Governance” card. After the GDOT board finally got a belly full of Gena’s indiscretions, they fired her before she could totally destroy the place. Ever since, Sonny has been pissed and is now on a mission to finish destroying a great department, simply because he didn’t get his way. In the process, he has done great harm to many fine career employees at GDOT, while making our state the laughing stock of the country. For you Sonny kool-aid drinkers, look at the facts. Mr. Doss is trying to point them out for you.
      Sonny and Gena, you should be smart enough to know that in order to throw rocks at someone, your own house had better be squeeky clean. And guess what … yours is not. And the scary part is that there are enough GDOT employees who also know where the skeletons are buried, and we are ready to talk.

    14. Confused says:

      All these so called “Reader Comments” are great, but a little one sided. How many of you have a self-interest in maintaining the the 50-year plus status quo? Any GDOT staff or large road-building contractor connections?

    15. Mitch says:

      Uhhhh, Mr. Doss, what do you say about this — http://www.ajc.com/news/feds-freeze-108396.html . Has Governor Perdue also somehow taken control of the Federal Transit Administration and ginned up a fake audit critical of GDOT as well? Yeah, I’m sure that’s it.

    16. to BradVN says:

      If the project had been to the public then you may be entitiled to suing your realtor, the pervios owner of the house for not disclosing this in the sale of the property.

    17. David Pinckney says:

      Thank you Mr. Doss for finally setting things straight with the public. I should be sent to every newspaper in the state as an editorial.

    18. DW says:

      Something else never mentioned in the audits. If GDOT was in such financial turmoil, then how could it afford to salary Ms. Evans’s new staff at nearly a million a year combined. Everyone is dead on that no one at GDOT personally gained but they sure was a few political figures that were going too and still probably did. Hmmmmm!!! Sure, there are things wrong with the Department. You are always going to have problems in big companies. I think Sonny needs to worry about spending time with Ms. Perdue and retire and let GDOT worry about GDOT.

      Well said Mr. Doss!!!!!

    19. FlintRiverRat says:

      Doss is on target and is commended for setting the record straight. Interesting reading can be had on the Transit Audit that is in this same blog page. The Federal Transit Authority has slammed GDOT for using cash basis (implemented by Gena Evans) rather than accrual basis that 49 other states use. The audit on that program even indicated the cash basis system was not legal to use in their program. Sonny and Gena have had their day screwing up transportation in this state. Thank you David Doss for setting the record straight!

    20. Roman Runaway says:

      Good for Doss, if he is right. When I heard of the money mismanagement, he was the first one I thought of. I think back to the SPLOST of 1988. This was when he was Chairman of the Floyd County Commission. That SPLOST was partially there to raise money for the revitalization of the lock at Lock and Dam Park was spent long before they found out through several studies that it couldn’t be done. I also think about the parking deck that was to be build adjacent to the Forum complex is now complete 20 years after the fact and done with new money that had to be found somewhere else by the current Floyd County Commission because the expenditures of the projects far exceeded what was in that SPLOST. David Doss and money mismanagement go hand in hand.
      If David is being honest on his points, that is wonderful, it appears that he has mended his ways. As far as Governor Perdue, everyone knows he’s a liar. Remember the flag issue?

    21. Confused says:

      I continue to stay confused over this long running issue. Purdue has nothing to gain politically from bringing the audit forward and openly. Yet I sense that most of those who have commented do have a keen interest from maintaining the status quo. Over the last 50 years, there has been one GDOT controversy after another. The findings of an open audit should be welcomed by every Georgia taxpayer, unless they have someone to protect or something to hide.

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