- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2001

Virginia Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner began a nationwide search yesterday for a commissioner to head the Virginia Department of Transportation, an embattled state agency that has been plagued by criminal investigations into cost overruns and environmental violations.
Mr. Warner, a Democrat, said he asked management-recruitment firm Korn/Ferry International to conduct the search and requested that the firm submit to him candidate recommendations by Feb. 1.
"For VDOT to truly be accountable to the people again, we must put transportation professionals in charge," Mr. Warner said in a press release.
The commissioner would replace outgoing Commissioner Charles "Chip" Nottingham, overseeing day-to-day operations and the department's 10,500 employees.
Meanwhile, Mr. Warner said he is reviewing candidates for the secretary of transportation, who will advise the governor-elect in naming a commissioner.
Mr. Warner said the ultimate goal of the commissioner search is to select a person who could be retained by his successor.
"By conducting a nationwide search, we'll be able to identify the most qualified individual to run the agency and make the reforms it needs," he said.
Mr. Warner said he expects to appoint a commissioner by April 30. In the meantime, the governor-elect will name an interim commissioner who will not be a candidate for the permanent position to begin making changes to VDOT that, he says, are needed to restore accountability to the agency.
VDOT has been a subject of several criminal investigations into suspected cost overruns of department projects, including the Mixing Bowl, and environmental violations. The investigations led to the removal of the commissioner in 1999.
A VDOT spokeswoman said yesterday the department looks forward to working with Mr. Warner.
"At this time, we stand ready to serve the next administration and continue to give it all we have," Tamara Neale said.
Mr. Warner also said he asked the Korn/Ferry firm to put together an informal advisory committee that will offer comments on the final candidates for the commissioner post.
The committee will include: state Sens. Martin E. Williams, Newport News Republican, and R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania Democrat; state Delegates John A. Rollison III, Prince William Republican, and Jackie T. Stump, Buchanan Democrat; former chief VDOT engineer Jack Hodge; and John G. Milliken, former state Secretary of Transportation and Mr. Warner's transition team director.
Ellen Sorokin

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