New state law opens peer review for public works projects

Published: Saturday, Sep. 7, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 3A

Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed Senate Bill 425, which sets new openness requirements for expert peer review of large public works projects.

The new law requires state agencies that sponsor such reviews to provide advance public notice about each group's goals, costs, deliberative process and selection of members. It also requires agencies to indicate if chosen experts have filed disclosure statements "that would identify real or perceived conflicts between a peer reviewer and the specified public works project."

The bill was drafted in response to a Sacramento Bee investigation that found significant financial and professional conflicts for members of a California Department of Transportation engineering panel that provided oversight for the new Bay Bridge eastern span, which opened on Labor Day.

The bill's author, Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, thanked the governor for supporting increased accountability in the review of large public works projects.

"Common sense reform measures such as SB 425 will help change the culture at public agencies, particularly Caltrans," DeSaulnier said in a written statement. "I look forward to continue working with Gov. Brown and his administration to restore the public's trust in Caltrans."

Call The Bee's Charles Piller, (916) 321-1113. Follow him on Twitter @cpiller.

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