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Reducing Inactive Projects Moves Improvements Forward

Tue December 04, 2018 - West Edition #25
Arizona Department of Transportation

When a project isn't using some or all of the funding committed to it because it's become inactive, freeing that money as quickly as possible means the Arizona Department of Transportation can move forward sooner with other work that's ready to go.

That's the goal behind a comprehensive effort to reduce what is known formally as ADOT's inactive projects balance. This balance is comprised of ADOT projects and local projects that haven't used any of the funding committed to them in more than 180 days.

At its peak, ADOT's inactive projects balance stood at $160 million, representing money committed to about 3,000 individual project phases including design, right-of-way acquisition and construction.

ADOT employees responsible for project funding have reduced that balance to $50.4 million and are continuing to develop ways to reduce it even further.

"To some, it may sound like an achievement that only an accountant could love, but reducing our inactive projects balance is a win for all Arizonans," said John Halikowski, ADOT director. "This allows us to be more nimble in getting limited transportation funding to other projects that will improve the quality of life in this state."

The most common reasons for projects becoming inactive include requesting funding too far in advance of needing to spend it, a local agency not invoicing ADOT in a timely manner and representatives failing to notify ADOT that a project or project phase is complete.

"Working across ADOT divisions and with local partners, our employees have identified problems that contribute to the inactive projects balance and developed sustainable improvements," said Kristine Ward, ADOT's chief financial officer. "We have a clear path and process for continuing to reduce this balance and get even more projects going sooner."

This effort is aligned with the agency's use of the Arizona Management System championed by Gov. Doug Ducey. It calls for all employees to identify ways to improve continuously improve processes and their value to customers.

The improvements include ADOT tracking inactive projects weekly and examining each project phase rather than the whole project when determining what has become inactive. Each month, a website lists inactive projects and projects that will be considered inactive in 30 days.

Employees developed a new policy on inactive projects spelling out that funding authorization should be requested only when a project phase is ready to proceed and providing a consistent process for closing out projects. ADOT representatives have made presentations about the policy and procedures at meetings of local government leaders in addition to conducting webinars for ADOT staff and those with local agencies.

Looking to reduce the inactive projects balance even further, ADOT now is focusing on ways to streamline the process for closing out project phases so the remaining committed funds can be released sooner.

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