April 25, 2013

Didn’t We Do This Already?

Despite my young age, I will admit that I have a pretty bad memory. That is why I am meticulous about organizing everything and recording notes so I do not lose track of what I have done. When I do forget, I simply search back through my notes and files — problem solved. Call me crazy, but I did not think I was unique in doing this.

Well, Jefferson City City Council members just decided to hire an outside party to complete an in-depth study of transportation system needs and resources. But a couple of years ago, the city hired a $150,000 consultant to do just that. The mayor aimed to justify a new study, suggesting that things have changed enough to warrant a new study. Yet, when asked whether he had reviewed the last study’s recommendations, he said, “It’s been a long time … I don’t want to go there today … I plan on it.” How does he know a new study is needed, if he does not even know what the last one said?

Apparently, many city council members were not even aware of the previous study. I would think a review of that one is necessary before they, or the mayor, can decide what action needs to be taken next. As Bill McClellan has pointed out in some old St. Louis Post-Dispatch columns, we are not doing anyone any favors (besides consultants) when governments pay for expensive studies that sit on the shelf, only to be duplicated again after they are lost under a layer of dust.

The cost of a new consultant was not mentioned in the article, but the city should evaluate the previous study and other options before throwing money into something that may simply reproduce previous work. I have to wonder, is there no one who works for the city (perhaps the Transit Division director) who is capable of making transit recommendations?

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