Department of Transportation

Use of Consultant Engineers

The Department of Transportation uses both staff engineers and consultant engineers to design highways and bridges, supervise construction projects and inspect bridges. In our prior audit report 89-S-45, which was issued in 1990, we found that many of the consultant engineers used by the Department were performing routine tasks that could be performed at much lower costs by staff engineers, and we recommended that additional staff engineers be hired by the Department. At the time, Department officials agreed with our recommendation and planned to hire an additional 672 engineers by 1998. However, the additional engineers were not hired, and in this audit, we examined whether the Department's frequent use of consultant engineers is cost-effective. When we analyzed salaries, we found that the salaries of the consultant engineers were higher than the salaries of comparable staff engineers. When we analyzed indirect costs, we identified many advantages to using staff engineers rather than consultant engineers. We therefore recommend consultant engineers be used by the Department only when it can be shown that the services provided by such engineers would be either less costly or better performed than the services provided by staff engineers.

For a complete copy of Report 97-S-12 click here.
For a copy of the 90-day response click here.
For a copy of the associated follow-up report click here.