Idaho's Weekly Journal of Local & National Commentary Week 2815


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by Free Market Duck

JFAC gives blank check for Governor Kempthorne's Highway Robbery
(March 23, 2006)

Boise, ID The idea of repairing and expanding Idaho's highway system is a grand idea.  The idea of converting Boise State University into a metropolitan research university is a great idea.  The idea of ensuring that every individual has access to adequate medical care is a wonderful concept.  The idea that everybody has an equal opportunity to obtain an education is high on everybody's list.

   The big question is: what is the best method by which to translate these lofty ideas into concrete results: (1) through governmental bureaucracies, or (2) through the free market and private enterprise?

   Liberal Democrats and those who understand zero about capitalism and free market economics lean toward the government building everything.  Crooks on both sides of the aisle (GOP and Demos) who know this are also attracted to this scenario because it provides them with guaranteed unaccountability and a big financial mess within which to cloak their Klingon development activities.  Witness FEMA after the Katrina Hurricane; the lost $100 million to Iraqi contractors, and closer to home, the $21 million + $15.6 million write-off + $18 million absurd "Reconciliation Agreement" in the University Place fiasco of Boise's Watergate.  Even nice guys start morphing into crooks just to get the job done.  I think that's what happened to Gov K and Speaker Newcomb and other well-meaning individuals who, in this scenario, allegedly stepped over the line for a good idea but bad methodology.

   Libertarians and fiscal Conservatives who understand how the true free market works (not the fake free market espoused by the GOP RINOs in their Culture of Corruption), lean toward private enterprise building everything while the government keeps its nose clean.  Private enterprise project development usually follows standard accounting and project management best practices in order to bring the project in on time and budget and earn a profit instead of a loss.  Private enterprise projects are estimated using a bottoms up method, usually boiler-plated from previous results of similar projects, and THEY DO NOT MIX ONE PROJECT'S BUDGET WITH OTHER PROJECT BUDGETS or nobody will be able to track critical path schedules (CPMs) or provide meaningful audit trails.

   So you see, mes amies, the reason that Chuck Windor (Gov K's handpicked real estate broker, not a highway engineer or true project manager) is so ecstatic at the Idaho state legislature's Joint Finance and Appropriations Committee (JFAC) allowing the Idaho Transportation Dept to move the GARVEE federal money anywhere they want between the Gov's different highway projects is because they have now essentially received a BLANK CHECK for NO PROJECT ACCOUNTABILITY for all of their $3 billion Highway projects.  That's why it was a moot point to the Good Ol' Boys of Boise whether JFAC reduced the Gov's original funding of $217 million to $200 million.

   Having managed multiple million-dollar projects for over 25 years, I am in a unique position to know that this so-called "flexibility" to move money between various projects that JFAC just approved is a NO-NO in the world of project management.  For one thing, it shows that none of the highway projects were estimated very well to begin with.  Second, this so-called "flexibility" tends to invite bad project management and crooks, which is exactly what we saw in the $136 million dollar University Place fiasco.  Read the investigative Prince Report (you might as well, it cost Idaho taxpayers over $1 million to date) and the reasons given by KPMG for the Univ Place project failure and you will see that JFAC has once again set us up for a huge Highway Transportation Gate in the making.  You already saw a hint of this with Winder's Transportation Board's surprise add-on for buddies WGI/CH2M Hill to receive an extra $30 million in a hoked-up deal in choosing a management team.  (Question: So if the management team was chosen after the projects were estimated, who estimated the original costs for these projects since estimating costs is one of the project management functions?  Who put the cart before the horse and why?  Something fishy's going on in River City, folks.) 

   Road building in Idaho may be a great idea.  But JFAC handing the Good Ol' Boys of Boise a blank check to move money between highway projects is a bad idea. -- FM Duck

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