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BOSTON-As part of an ongoing effort to recoup some of the costs of the Big Dig, the massive highway project in the heart of the city whose budget ballooned up to $14.5 billion, state Senator Marc R. Pacheco, filed legislation to create a commission with independent jurisdiction and authority to oversee the cost recovery efforts.

The bill comes just about six months after legislation was passed to allow the state to pursue claims on contractors on the project for up to 10 years. That legislation, which was proposed by secretary of state William Galvin, was in response to a report released by the Inspector General that stated that Bechtel/ Parsons Brinckerhoff, the Big Dig’s lead contractor, cost the state $65 million in cost overruns.

Pacheco’s legislation would create a seven-member commission to manage existing cost recovery efforts, to initiate its own investigations and to devise and implement its own independent cost recovery strategy. It is the result of hearings held by the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, in conjunction with the Senate members of the Joint Committee on Transportation and the Senate Committee on Long-Term Debt, and a subsequent investigation that followed.

“Following two days of hearings and months of investigation, the Senate Committee on Post Audit and Oversight found gross mismanagement within the project and subsequent recovery efforts,” notes Pacheco. “I believe the legislation filed today brings integrity and honesty back to profligate public works project known to millions as the Big Dig.”

For the first eight months, the commission will be charged with overseeing the cost recovery efforts of the existing Turnpike Independent Cost Recovery Team. The commission must sign off on all settlements proposed by the Turnpike Independent Cost Recovery Team in order to proceed. If, after that period, the commission decides that it is not in the public interest for the Turnpike Independent Cost Recovery Team to continue its operation, the commission may vote to take on additional powers authorized in the legislation.

The membership of the commission would include: the chairperson, a dean or professor of a Massachusetts law school to be appointed by the State Auditor; the Inspector General or a designee; the State Auditor or a designee; a forensic accountant; the Secretary of the Commonwealth or a designee; the Governor or a designee; and the Federal Highway Regional Administrator or a designee.

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