Delaware's new Secretary of Transportation says he recognizes the top challenge facing him in his new responsibility: restoring the credibility of DelDOT.
Shailen Bhatt says he heard that from legislators and from some of the employees at DelDOT since being nominated to head the department in late May.
During his swearing-in ceremony Tuesday in Dover, Bhatt outlined his strategy for addressing the challenges of an agency that has been criticized for questionable land deals and cost overruns at the new Indian River Bridge. The state also faces a funding crisis with its Transportation Trust Fund.
"We're going to have to act more transparently. We're going to have to be ethical in our decision-making and more efficient with the choices that we make in this era of constrained resources," Bhatt said. "We're going to have to be accountable."
The new Secretary added that his fourth major initiative involves detailed measurement of performance.
"We will talk to our stakeholders to determine the kind of transportation system we want in Delaware, and then we will track our investments and our performance to ensure that they match our goals," Bhatt added.
Most recently, Bhatt was Associate Administrator at the Federal Highway Administration. Previous to that he served as Deputy Executive Director with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet - an agency he said underwent similar criticism and scrutiny that has recently faced DelDOT.
Governor Jack Markell administered the oath of office, saying "I believe that we have found in Shailen Bhatt somebody with a strong background in transportation at the local level, the state level and the federal level."
The Governor also praised the work of Cleon Cauley, who served as acting Secretary of Transportation since March following the resignation of Carolann Wicks.