Kansas Department of Transportation
The Kansas Department of Transportation (KDOT) is an executive branch agency in charge of managing a multi-modal transportation system, including nearly 10,000 miles of Interstate, US and State highways within the State of Kansas. At KDOT, we believe our employees are our most valuable resource and our employees are passionate about the service they offer to Kansas. KDOT’s mission is to provide a safe, reliable, innovative statewide transportation system that works for all Kansans today and in the future. In 2020, Governor Laura Kelly directed the agency to develop a new comprehensive transportation program, which became known as the Eisenhower Legacy Transportation Program (IKE). The Kansas Legislature passed the 10-year, $9.9 billion program that addresses highways, bridges, public transit, aviation, short-line rail, access to rural broadband services and bike/pedestrian needs across Kansas. The program and associated projects are focused on taking care of our existing infrastructure, making roads safer, reducing travel time delays, supporting economic growth and creating more options and resources for Kansans and their communities.
To meet our mission, projects, and goals, KDOT employs thousands of employees from throughout the state with diverse and varying skillsets. The agency’s structure is centralized, with the headquarters located in the capital city of Topeka, KS. The headquarters staff is organized into divisions and bureaus that focus on the various specialties of the agency. KDOT’s field operations staff are located across the State, which is split into six regions, or “districts”. KDOT has approximately 2,100 staff, between its headquarters and field operations that work in a variety of fields to include: operations, engineering, fiscal, information technology, legal, human resources, aviation, communications, and more.
KDOT’s transportation function has a total budget for FY 2023 of $2.8 billion, including $2.3 billion from the dedicated State Highway Fund. The expenditures for transportation activities in FY 2024 total $2.1 billion, including $1.8 billion from the State Highway Fund. The agency does not have State General Fund appropriations for any of their transportation functions.
Governor Kelly seeks a new Secretary that will lead the agency through a transformative period in transportation planning and project implementation. The Governor envisions KDOT becoming a national leader in innovative project delivery and management of transportation facilities and services. The new Secretary will oversee the political, management, and communication strategies necessary to achieve this vision. The State’s transportation policies, programs, and projects are intended to contribute to a higher quality of life in Kansas and will help advance economic prosperity in every region of the State. The new Secretary will continue KDOT’s work to promote greater equity, diversity, and inclusion in the department’s workforce and advance policies that position the State to take advantage of new and emerging technologies within the field, while delivering a safer transportation network.
The selected candidate will be an inspiring leader, an exceptional communicator, and an experienced problem-solver who will effectively work with a wide range of people, interests, and viewpoints. Our new leader will skillfully manage KDOT’s budget and operations, institutionalize equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility in the agency’s policies, programs, projects, and the businesses with which KDOT contracts. They will also have a strong commitment to strengthening the Kansas’ transportation system and will promote the agency’s ongoing efforts to collaborate with and consider the needs of local communities and the perspectives of its partners in and outside of government.
KDOT’s new Secretary will have significant experience in transportation and will have a strong interest in transportation finance and emerging transportation services and technologies. They must be deeply committed to building the safest and most effective transportation system in the country.
The Secretary will have frequent contact with the public, state employees, contractors, legislators, Governor Kelly, and other officials within the State of Kansas.
In addition to serving as the head of the agency that is responsible for all 2,100 personnel, the Secretary directly oversees the following seven positions:
Deputy Secretary/State Transportation Engineer
Senior Director for Policy, Communications and Safety
Senior Director for Administration, Fiscal & Asset Management and IT Services
Director of Aviation
Director of Strategic Initiatives
Executive Office Administrator
The Secretary retains the ability to structure their senior leadership team in a manner that best aligns with their working style and advances the overall mission of the agency.
In addition to the daily operations of the agency, the Secretary is responsible for overseeing an average of 500 highway construction projects, which includes approximately 300 projects on the State Highway System and approximately 200 partnering projects, which occur on the Local Road System. On average, these projects combined will resurface nearly 1,500 miles of roadway and replace or repair about 270 bridges (State and local) per year.
THE CABINET SECRETARY’S KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
It is expected that the person in this position will provide effective executive leadership, execute Governor Kelley’s transportation agenda, administer the IKE program and oversee the State’s transportation allocation from the recently passed federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
The Secretary will lead by example, provide performance objectives, midyear performance feedback discussions, timely performance reviews, coaching and counseling, discipline, and will ensure that professional development opportunities are available for employees.
- Direct the IKE Transportation Program.
- Apply for, receive, and administer any federal BIL funds or other funds (now or hereafter) made available for infrastructure, highway, road or street purposes or for purposes related to other modes and systems of transportation.
- Enter into agreements with or compacts with federal, State or regional agencies, counties, cities, townships, other authorities, individuals, partnerships or corporations.
- Cooperate with the Kansas Turnpike Authority to the maximum extent allowed by law to achieve maximum coordination in the planning, development and operation of the highway systems in the State.
- To perform acts and duties to fulfill statutory duties assigned to the Secretary of Transportation.
- Work with Governor’s Office to appoint persons to fill various positions within the Kansas Department of Transportation and/or to serve on relevant advisory boards.
- Serve on the Board of Directors for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
- Administer, direct and supervise the personnel, planning, development and operation of the various modes and systems of transportation within the State.
Public Service and Stakeholder Engagement:
- Provide information to and answer questions from elected leaders and engage with stakeholders to advance the work of the Kansas Department of Transportation.
- Carry on transportation educational work and cooperate with the State and national organizations for the support and advancement of transportation.
YEAR ONE CRITICAL ACTIONS FOR THE NEXT CABINET SECRETARY
- Assess Kansas’s transportation goals, policies, programs, and direction and recommend to the Governor a plan for improvement and, as necessary, revision of these goals, policies, programs, and direction to achieve the vision articulated above.
- Develop strong partnerships with KDOT personnel, Governor Kelly, legislators, the Kansas Turnpike Authority and other State and federal agencies, regional and local governments, transit districts, tribal governments, airports, design and construction contractors, system users, other transportation partners, representatives of workers and organized labor and the public, among others.
- Assess the current staff at KDOT and the professional development and advancement of those employees and, as necessary, recruit additional talent from diverse candidate pools to successfully achieve KDOT’s goals.
- Continue efforts to advance the IKE Transportation Program and Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS
The next KDOT Secretary will have a minimum of ten years of executive management experience in a public or private organization or a combination thereof, with significant experience in transportation finance, policy, and/or programs, and project delivery. This individual will possess superb leadership, communication, problem-solving, collaborative, innovative, and management abilities.
The selected candidate will have a keen awareness (or a willingness to learn) of the unique and varied cultures and regions within the State, a strong understanding of the department’s role in advancing Kansas’s economic, social, and health goals, and a steadfast commitment to ensuring that Kansas’s transportation system meets the needs of a growing and increasingly diverse population.
Ideally, the successful candidate will possess many of the following qualifications:
- A track record of responsible management of a State or complex regional or urban transportation system, with a focus on maintaining and enhancing transportation assets and prioritizing their safe and efficient use.
- A keen understanding of the landscape across the State of Kansas and the role Kansas’s transportation system plays in building the economy of the entire State through investments across urban, rural, and frontier regions of the State.
- A track record of solving access and mobility needs with holistic, equitable, multimodal investments.
- A strong transportation knowledge base, including familiarity with transportation finance.
- Demonstrated ability to create robust, two-way relationships with federal, state, local and tribal governmental entities advisors and opinion leaders.
- A commitment to taking a fresh look at KDOT’s functions, and to making decisions for advancing the agency’s relationship with external stakeholders and partners.
- Experience in leading a diverse staff and encouraging innovation, collaboration, diversity, and inclusivity to achieve core business objectives.
- Experience in leading (or managing staff who have effectively led) capital infrastructure project delivery.
- Experience in working with, and an astute understanding of media presence.
Ideal personal attributes include:
- Visionary and energetic leader
- Charismatic communicator
- Open and approachable personality
- Effective listener
- Collaborative and decisive
- Transformational and innovative
- Committed to a multi-modal transportation model
- Politically savvy
- Problem solver
- Team builder
- Committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion
- Knowledge of the State’s business and political climate preferred
- Strong Communication skills
An undergraduate degree from an accredited college/university or equivalent experience is required.
A competitive compensation package will be offered to attract the most qualified candidates. The State of Kansas also offers excellent health care coverage, participation in the Kansas Public Employees Retirement System. KDOT will cover relocation expenses and will provide an agency car for business use. Additional formal benefits are included with KTA Board appointment.
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