DelDOT responds to report, announces changes

Two Delaware Department of Transportation managers have left their positions in the wake of a report from the governor’s office that was highly critical of some recent DelDOT land deals.

 

Agency Secretary Carolann Wicks announced today that Director of Planning Ralph Reeb has resigned, effective immediately, and that Chief of Real Estate Wayne Rizzo is retiring, effective Feb. 1.

The announcement came in the form of a memo released to all DelDOT employees.

“After careful consideration of the recent review and report on DelDOT’s management of the Route 113 project issued by Gov. Jack Markell’s office, I have decided that effective immediately our agency will begin moving on a variety of fronts to enact necessary changes in the way we serve the citizens of our state,” Wicks said in the statement.

The report, released last week by Markell’s office, concluded the state transportation department displayed incompetence when it made three land deals related to the proposed U.S. 113 bypass.

The report found nothing illegal in the deals that paid developers millions not to build hundreds of homes in one of the country’s worst housing markets.

But it recommended that the department’s secretary “give serious consideration to making senior personnel changes in the property acquisition part of DelDOT’s operations.”

In the memo, Wicks announced a series of changes and priorities as a result of the report. They are:

Bring fresh leadership and greater accountability to the areas of real estate acquisition, including necessary personnel changes; 
Institute new checks and balances for internal legal sufficiency reviews to ensure that state resources are protected in the contract negotiation process; 
Institute new checks and balances on financial processes for real estate acquisitions; 
Upgrade and expand our communication channels, so citizens are more engaged and aware as we make critical real estate decisions; 
Elevate the role and responsibility of the Advanced Acquisition Committee – composed of elected and appointed public representatives – to ensure real estate acquisitions are properly vetted, openly conducted and are based on the best economic and legal information available.  Formal regulations will define these roles, responsibilities and the types of properties that will be approved through a public promulgation process; 
Refocus DelDOT employees on doing everything they can individually and collectively to gain and keep the public’s trust as they fulfill the many and varied missions of our agency.

A spokesperson for Markell says the governor supports the announced changes, including the personnel moves.

“While the governor appreciates the long-term service of both Mr. Reeb and Mr. Rizzo, this is an opportunity for the Department to forge a new direction as it relates to property acquisition,” said Catherine Rossi, Director of Communications.

 

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