Governor Brown has signed a bill to bring reform and accountability to public works projects. Senate Bill 425, authored by Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), sets standards for assembling peer review panels in a clear and transparent manner. SB 425 enjoyed strong bi-partisan support in both the Senate and Assembly. The bill passed 78-0 off the Assembly floor and 35-0 in the Senate.
“I thank Governor Brown for supporting important efforts to bring greater accountability and transparency to major public works projects,” Senator DeSaulnier said. “Reviews should meet clear criteria before projects are touted as “peer reviewed”. Common sense reform measures such as SB 425 will help change the culture at public agencies, particularly Caltrans. I look forward to continue working with Governor Brown and his administration to restore the public’s trust in Caltrans.”
SB 425 takes a number of steps toward legitimizing the use of peer review on public works projects in California. SB 425 defines peer review and requires administering agencies utilizing a peer review group on a public works project to develop a transparent process for selecting members of the review group. Further, agencies must draft and post online a charter for the peer review group describing the groups’ members, objectives, and aims. Finally, SB 425 restricts the use of the term peer review in order to maintain the integrity of the process throughout the state. A project cannot be “peer reviewed” unless the group created by the administering agency meets the strict standards outlined in SB 425.