135.2 Public Contacts
Employees should use courtesy and consideration in all contacts with the public. All of MoDOT is judged by the actions of its employees. Although an employee may not obligate the department to any course of action or any expense without due authorization, always be as tactful and helpful as conditions permit. There are many ways to communicate with the public: newspapers, radio, television, service clubs, chambers of commerce, city and county officials, and direct contact with individuals.
In dealing with residents along the highway, the resident engineer must try to maintain friendly relations. Requests will often be made on which the resident engineer does not have authority to act. When this happens, every effort must be made not to offend those making such requests. Individuals should not be referred to the resident engineer's supervisor but should be told that the matter will be taken up with the resident engineer's supervisor. After this has been done, the resident engineer should personally take the answer back to the interested persons.
135.2.1 Involving the District Engineer
If, after thorough discussion of the matter, the person still insists on seeing the district engineer, give the name, address and telephone number of the district engineer and suggest that an appointment be made before visiting the district office to avoid a fruitless trip. The resident engineer should then inform the district engineer of the name of the person requesting the meeting. Give the district engineer a full report of conditions about which the person will want to meet and also the status of the request.
135.2.2 News Releases
If conditions develop into public controversy or misunderstanding, full information about the matter should be given to public affairs so that early news releases can inform the public of the facts.
135.2.3 Media Contacts
In contacts with newspapers, radio or television, the resident engineer should furnish information only on matters in which the resident engineer is personally responsible and well informed. Questions concerning policy or programs should be referred to the district engineer or public affairs manager for consideration. In some areas, the district engineer may require that all news releases originate with the district office to ensure proper distribution to all interested media.
135.2.4 Temporary Surfacing
One item that can greatly reduce public inconvenience during construction is placement of temporary surfacing. If work is ceasing for the winter months and traffic must use crossroads and approaches, every effort must be made to anticipate these locations and authorize use of temporary surfacing before they become problem areas.
The contract will provide a quantity of temporary surfacing estimated to be adequate for the project. However, the resident engineer may authorize placement of needed additional temporary surfacing. A change order should be prepared promptly to provide payment for the anticipated overrun in quantity.
If the contract contains special provisions that provide for placement by the contractor of surfacing for temporary use under conditions different from standard specifications, such provisions will govern since these instructions cannot revise the contract.
135.2.5 Open Records Policy (Sunshine Act)
The Missouri Open Records Law (Sunshine Act) requires governmental agencies to conduct business in a manner open and accessible to all citizens and make their records available to the public. The vast majority of our records may be shared with the public upon request. Some information, however, should not be released. When responding to requests for information, the procedures outlined in the Sunshine Act Policy should be followed. The district construction engineer and each resident engineer have been provided a copy of this policy to assist in responding to requests for information. If the request requires the removal of records from the office, personnel must be available at all times to accompany the records to insure that they are not lost or destroyed.