Legislative Analyst's Office
February 22, 1995

Department of Transportation (2660)

The Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing the development and operation of the state's transportation system. These responsibilities are carried out in five programs. Three programs--Highway Transportation, Mass Transportation, and Aeronautics--concentrate on specific transportation modes. In addition, Transportation Planning seeks to improve the planning for all travel modes, and Administration encompasses management of the department.

The budget proposes expenditures of $6.2 billion by Caltrans in 1995-96. This is about $197.4 million, or 3.3 percent, more than estimated current-year expenditures.

Legislative Oversight

Lack of Information Hinders Legislative Review

Caltrans has not provided information that the Legislature requires in order to review the department's budget and programs. We recommend that the department describe, at budget hearings, the specific actions that it will take to improve the flow of information.

In order for the Legislature to evaluate Caltrans' budget needs and to assess its performance, it is necessary that the department provide timely, complete and accurate information about its budget, expenditures and program activities. Over the last year, however, Caltrans has, on many occasions and without explanation, failed to provide requested information, or has been unable to provide the information on a timely basis. Furthermore, in many instances, the department has been unable to provide detail to justify or explain its 1995-96 budget proposals. For example, Caltrans did not provide:

This lack of information hinders the Legislature's ability to set transportation priorities and policies and find out the extent to which Caltrans is achieving the state's goals. Furthermore, without complete information from Caltrans, the Legislature is less able to review the department's budget.

Recommendation. Caltrans has not explained its inability to provide the Legislature with information about its budget, expenditures, and programs. We are unable to determine whether this inability is the result of a lack of basic budget and program information within the department, or if it is a decision to willfully disregard the request for information. Regardless of the explanation, however, the Legislature's ability to exercise oversight over the department's performance and activities is greatly diminished. Accordingly, we recommend that Caltrans report, at budget hearings, on specific actions that it will take to improve the flow of information to the Legislature.

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