Almost three months after hearing he would be replaced as the head of the Utah Department of Transportation, Gene Findlay has been told he can keep his job.
The Utah Senate was expected Wednesday to confirm Findlay as the executive director of UDOT and Carolyn Lloyd as the executive director of the Utah Department of Administrative Services.Findlay had been asked by Gov. Norm Bangerter to stay on as acting director of UDOT until a replacement was named. Then the governor planned for him to return to his former post - head of administrative services.
What changed the governor's mind? According to his chief of staff, Bud Scruggs, Bangerter didn't have a favorite among the five candidates he interviewed for the UDOT job.
And when the governor began asking around about who on the list that included one former and three current UDOT employees would be the best choice for the job, the answer kept coming back Findlay.
"Everybody we went to said, `Keep Gene Findlay,' " Scruggs said. "When you have enough people telling you something's working, our adage here is, `Don't fix it.' "
The reasoning behind the governor's original decision was that the transportation department should be headed by an engineer who could understand the technical aspects of road design and construction.
"We thought it was time to give him a break," Scruggs said of Findlay, whose background is in administration. "It was tough duty. We've typically had an engineer in there."
Findlay said he holds no hard feelings about the months he has spent juggling his time between UDOT and the Department of Administrative Services, including representing both at the Legislature.
He said he "pretty well sat back" and waited while the governor searched for a new UDOT executive director.
But when he realized that Bangerter was having trouble making up his mind, Findlay told the governor during a meeting last week that he'd be happy to keep his UDOT job.
Findlay said he felt comfortable relying on UDOT engineers to advise him in making decisions that required technical knowledge. He said that he did not anticipate any friction between himself and the employees who sought his job.
The governor's naming of a permanent UDOT executive director does allow Findlay an opportunity to re-evaluate his appointments within the agency. He said he does not plan to fire anyone but might do some re-shuffling.
Some 17 top-ranking employees submitted their resignations early last December when the governor said he was replacing Findlay. They have been uncertain of their futures in state government ever since.
Lloyd will return to the job she has held since Findlay first went to UDOT more than two years ago. She had served as Findlay's deputy director when he was over the Department of Administrative Services.