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Michigan Aggregates Association Disputes State Audit Report


Michigan's Office of the Auditor General claims that the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) spent a questionable $100,000 on a study of the state’s gravel resources. Auditors said the MDOT gave the gravel industry considerable influence in the commissioning and scoping of the state-paid study on whether Michigan has enough aggregates to do future highway construction projects.

The audit states that industry influence may have undermined the study's credibility because the industry wants to expand the mining of mineral aggregates. It also states that the transportation agency inappropriately split the study in two to circumvent maximum contract amounts, did not ensure that contractors did what was required and the $100,000 study had "limited usefulness." 

Michigan Aggregates Association (MAA) President Douglas Needham, a professional engineer with more than 20 years of experience in the road-building industry, disputed that assessment and issued the following statement regarding the report: 

"We are very disappointed that actions taken by the department are overshadowing the urgent need for more aggregates to rebuild Michigan's crumbling roads and bridges. The fact is, the audit found that MDOT failed to follow departmental procedures when processing a study of what is a vital need for Michigan drivers and taxpayers: increased access to the aggregates we need to rebuild our infrastructure.

"Any implication that MAA could control either MDOT or FMI's decision making is ridiculous and so is, therefore, any suggestion by MDOT that our association pay for a report process so poorly handled under its supervision. Had MDOT not asked for input from MAA, no input would have been given. But MDOT did ask the association for data, so it was provided. Beyond that, what MDOT decided to do with the data was up to them. Only MDOT could make the decisions necessary for conducting the study.

"MDOT's process mistakes do not change the fact that local government obstruction, high demand for aggregates and large transit costs are resulting in rising costs to taxpayers and fewer road repairs. MDOT must now correct its internal processes. Disputes between disgruntled employees and management can only be addressed internally by the department. Otherwise, this report will create a permanent chilling effect on any industry's desire to work with state government when we are asked to provide data and expertise."