If You Thought the Bridge-to-Nowhere Was Bad…
Back in 2003, the Department of Transportation’s Marine Administration (MARAD) began supervising a modernization project for the Port of Anchorage. Work was supposed to be completed in 2005, but eight years later, the work is still unfinished. Not only is the port still incomplete, the projected cost has exploded from $211 million to over $1 billion, according to The Washington Times.*
How did it happen? A Department of Transportation Inspector General’s report released on August 2, 2013 cited lack of oversight and mismanagement of port contracts. The Times reported that MARAD had “largely washed its hands of the construction, relying instead on local authorities to complete the work,” which contributed to the overall problem. The mismanagement of contracts also resulted in additional costs to taxpayers to the tune of $11.3 million after the lead contractor sued the government “for delayed work and shifting contact requirements.”
Even more disturbing, MARAD was still awarded similar projects in Hawaii and Guam, after these problems had become apparent. The Inspector General’s report offered a detailed outline of MARAD’s shortcomings, which drew a response from the acting maritime administrator, Paul Jaenichen:
“MARAD no longer operates in this manner. This administration has taken action to increase oversight, assign dedicated project and program staff and increase its level of engagement with local partners.”
It’s just a shame that it took ten years and $1 billion for MARAD to start making changes.