News from Senator Peter Roskam Senate Republican Whip
  315 West Wesley Street 309H State House
  Wheaton, Illinois 60187 Springfield, Illinois 62706
  630-690-4500 217/782-8022  

For Immediate Release

Date:  Sept. 22, 2006/tia

Senate Week in Review Sept. 18-22

Springfield, IL – Tensions mounted this week during a Legislative Audit Commission meeting as Auditor General William Holland confronted Illinois Department of Transportation officials to find explanations about $700,000 in questionable expenses and other incidents of mismanagement, according to State Senator Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton).

The Legislative Audit Commission met Sept. 21 to review the status of audits conducted on the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) and Central Management Services (CMS).

The Department of Transportation was under scrutiny for several questionable decisions, including expenditures related to the promotion of reconstruction work being done to the Dan Ryan Expressway in the Chicago region. The audit refers to some $25,000 in state expenses to pay for a parade float and temporary tattoos.

In addition, Holland also questioned how contracts were awarded as 40 percent of the contracts under review did not go to the lowest bidders and were not publicly disclosed. The Auditor General has turned over his findings to the Attorney General and the state’s Inspector General for review.

The controversy surrounding IDOT intensified as a result of recent media reports highlighting cost overruns for projects on the Dan Ryan Expressway. According to recent reports, the cost for the project is approaching $1 billion, which is nearly twice the original $550 million price tag.

IDOT officials have admitted that the cost overruns will impact the ability of the state to complete other transportation projects across the state. Senate Republicans are fearful that transportation projects in the suburbs and in downstate Illinois will not get funded as a result of IDOT’s mismanagement. They are again calling for contract reforms.

Introduced in the spring of 2005 by Senate Republicans, “The Responsible Public Contracting Act,” is a comprehensive package of legislation that would: stop the Administration’s abuse of “sole source” and “emergency” exemptions to bidding requirements; encourage more competition on state contracts by strengthening bidding practices; require greater public disclosure on contractors and their related businesses, key executives and lobbyists; force timely public notices of contracts and conflict of interest waivers; and give the state Comptroller and Treasurer the power to void illegal contracts.

Unfortunately, the Democrat-controlled Legislature continues to block these proposals.