Inside Seven
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IT TAKES A DISTRICT: DIRECTOR FAILING WINS TOP MANAGEMENT AWARD
by  Judy Gish
Issue Date: 06/2007

Years of great leadership are acknowledged by the Department.

District Director Doug Failing is the winner of the 2007 Charles Purcell Award for Outstanding Management and Engineering in Transportation. 

The Purcell Award recognizes valued contributions by Caltrans engineering managers to the field of transportation engineering and program management. Charles H. Purcell served as California’s State Highway Engineer from 1928 to 1943 and as Director of Public Works until 1951, overseeing construction of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and the State Highway System.

“What I appreciate most about this award is that it really is a recognition of all District 7 employees,” Failing said. “After all, a manager is only as good as the people he manages and all of the District’s achievements are the products of our excellent workforce.”

Failing was recognized for 26 years of superior service to Caltrans, all spent in District 7. Under his management, the District has taken first place in project delivery three years in a row. Last year, that amounted to 91 projects totaling $279 million. Under Failing’s direction, the District developed and implemented overhead management strategies that resulted in the lowest overhead costs in the Department. These strategies are now being adopted by other districts to reduce their overhead costs.

In addition to working tirelessly on behalf of congestion relief, Failing also is a dedicated champion of small businesses. Under his auspices, District 7 recently developed the Calmentor program, in which large businesses partner with small businesses to mentor and coach them, which benefits both entities and the Department by increasing the number of small business consultants in the State. The program has become a model for other Caltrans districts and also has caught the attention of Governor Schwarzenegger as a new strategy for reinvigorating business in California.  Failing also launched the Department’s first Procurement Fair, bringing small business vendors together with purchasers.

Another innovation occurring under Failing’s leadership was the establishment of overhead electronic freeway signs (CMS) to display real-time travel information, forging the way for other districts to follow.

For these and countless other contributions to improving transportation in the District, Failing was chosen last year by the Los Angeles Times’ West Magazine as one of the 100 most powerful people in southern California. In addition, Los Angeles Magazine highlighted him in their December, 2006 issue as one of the most influential people in Los Angeles.

District 7 seems to have an abundance of outstanding managers, to judge by the Purcell Award committee. Chief Deputy District Director Raja Mitwasi received a Purcell Award in 2005.