The Missouri Department of Transportation (MODOT) is getting attention for its innovative cost-saving strategies. By using social media and leveraging other technology trends, MODOT officials predict they will meet their goal of saving $500 million in five years, according to a report in Forbes.
Mike Miller, MODOT's assistant information systems director told Forbes about a controversial decision to close two major interstate highways for a year, rather than embark on a multi-year rebuilding project that could endanger highway workers. Officials provided residents with mobile maps and other applications to assist with trip planning during the closure. Despite facing criticism for closing the routes, it saved the state $100 million in taxpayer funds.
Miller credited the proactive attitude of the agency to Pete Rahn, former transportation director for MODOT, named one of Governing's 2009 Public Officials of the Year. Rahn was known around the agency for his action-oriented leadership style, which inspired many innovative, cost-saving projects. “Our target for the 5 year plan was to save the taxpayers $500 million, and we’re 70 percent there already. We started in 2010 and we believe we’ll beat the original target,” Miller said.
Other strategies the agency initiated to save money included using camera-equipped vans to spot road damage and proactively fix it before complaints came in. Every MODOT building and hundreds of roadway access points are wireless enabled, to ensure employees can get information in the field. The agency also uses Twitter, Facebook and a podcast series to keep the public abreast of their activities.