Transportation makeover begins
COLUMBIA -- The S.C. Department of Transportation took the first steps Monday of reorganizing the agency by replacing its top financial officer, a move that follows a months-long inquiry into its cash flow troubles.
Robert St. Onge, the state's transportation secretary, announced that Angela Feaster will be replaced by Christy Hall as the deputy secretary for finance and administration. Hall is an 18-year Transportation Department employee who served most recently as the district engineer administrator for the Greenwood region.
Feaster will take on other office duties when Hall takes over Nov. 7. Hall also will reorganize the finance office.
The move follows a series of reports by The Post and Courier since August, which revealed the agency's cash troubles. The Transportation Department sought a $52 million lump-sum payment in reimbursements from the federal government to help get caught up on money it owed contractors and an outstanding balance on major construction loans. Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, is also leading a fact-finding mission into the agency's operations.
Pete Poore, a spokesman for the Transportation Department, said an office reorganization was part of St. Onge's plans from his first day on the job. Gov. Nikki Haley tapped St. Onge for the job in January.
St. Onge also will follow through on the recommendations by the agency's reorganization task force to create a procurement office and develop a division of support services with a customer relations office. The changes will be implemented over the next two months and build on other changes already under way, such as weekly meeting between engineering and financial staff.
State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, a Republican who has been vocal about his concerns at the agency, said he is pleased with the action. "This is only a first step and more changes are needed," Loftis said. The agency should become more accountable and transparent, he said.