Read Highway Robbery II

Click Here to download a PDF version of NASHTU’s Highway Robbery II Report (dated May 2007).


N E W S   R E L E A S E

June 25, 2007
Ted Toppin
OUTSOURCING DESIGN WORK ON TRANSPORTATION PROJECTS INCREASES COSTS AND THREATENS PUBLIC SAFETY, ACCORDING TO REPORT Highway Robbery IIa new report from the National Association of State Highway and Transportation Unions (NASHTU), details a growing array of problems – high costs, reduced project safety, and loss of public accountability — resulting from state and local transportation agencies outsourcing engineering, construction inspection and project oversight on federally funded transportation projects.  A copy of the report is attached. Key Highway Robbery II findings include:

  • Outsourcing of design, inspection, and construction management by departments of transportation – usually through no bid contracts — is significantly more expensive than doing the work in-house.
  • Outsourcing inspection and oversight has led to dangerous construction defects, project delays, and overcharges.  Boston’s “Big Dig” is but one high profile example.  In July 2006, a “Big Dig” tunnel collapsed killing a woman and injuring her husband, substantially increasing costs, and forcing several lengthy closures.
  • Outsourcing in many states has become part of a budgetary shell game in which public engineers are cut and replaced by consultants at higher cost.  As a result, states lose experienced staff, fail to recruit and retain new engineering and technical employees, and lose the ability to appropriately design, inspect and oversee transportation projects.

To ensure that taxpayers receive safe, high quality transportation services at the best possible price, the report concludes with a call to Congress to enact “accountability in contracting” provisions requiring state transportation departments to perform cost-benefit studies before outsourcing engineering work on federally funded projects. States should also take steps to hold private contractors accountable for the cost and quality of their work, the report adds.

Highway Robbery II is an update of NASHTU’s highly regarded Highway Robbery, published in 2002.   The report was authored by David Kusnet, a journalist and author whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and many other publications.  To discuss the report with a representative in your state please call Ted Toppin at 916/446-0584 or email

NASHTU represents 38 unions and associations from 20 states and the District of Columbia representing hundreds of thousands of state and local transportation department employees.  To learn more about NASHTU, please visit our website