TxDOT Exec. Director, Deputy to Retire Amid Criticisms

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The head of the Texas Department of Transportation and a top deputy have announced they will retire this year, just weeks after a review criticized the agency's leadership and dealings with the public.

    Executive director Amadeo Saenz Jr. on Wednesday advised his staff that he will retire at the end of August. TxDOT deputy executive director Steve Simmons also has given his notice to retire, effective Aug. 31.

    Saenz, 55, informed the TxDOT commission Monday, in a letter, that he will retire after 33 years with the department. He has been executive director since 2007.

    Simmons is a former Fort Worth district engineer.

    The leadership changes come as Texas lawmakers wrangle with a projected budget shortfall of at least $15 billion for the next two-year spending period and state agencies face possible cutbacks.

    A report from a three-member review council, released Jan. 5, said the 12,000-employee Texas Department of Transportation needed new leadership, consolidated financial operations and better communication with the public.

    "TxDOT will continue to evolve and I recognize a need to clear a path for the next person fortunate enough to occupy the position of executive director," Saenz wrote.

    Deirdre Delisi, Texas Transportation Commission chairwoman, praised Saenz for his service.

    "Throughout the course of his career, Amadeo has earned a reputation as a leader and coalition builder, and earned the respect and trust of his peers across the country, our partners here in Texas, and most importantly, his employees," Delisi said in a statement. "Amadeo has served his state with honor and integrity. TxDOT is a better agency today thanks to his leadership."

    Saenz said his immediate goal is to guide the TxDOT workforce through "upcoming changes until you have selected a new executive director."

    The review panel that issued the report critical of TxDOT was appointed last summer by the Texas Transportation Commission. The recommendations were based on an examination of a May 2010 external audit of TxDOT.