O’Leary confirmed as DOT chief

The Executive Council Thursday confirmed Charles O’Leary to serve as Transportation Commissioner until December.

O’Leary will fill the unexpired term of former Commissioner Carol Murray, who resigned from the post effective March 1. His term will expire on Dec. 3. Gov. John Lynch said he will use the time to find a permanent commissioner.

O’Leary served as transportation commissioner from 1990 to 1996 under Govs. Judd Gregg and Steve Merrill.

After leaving the department, O’Leary became president and partner of Northeast Concrete Products of Plainview, Mass., a position he held until retiring in December 2004.

Last year, Lynch said he had concerns about Murray’s leadership and management of the department. He had cited an audit of the department’s billing and accounting practices.

The audit showed that a badly outdated system, plus a lack of experienced financial staff caused the department to miscode some projects that were eligible for federal reimbursement, delaying the state’s collection of millions in federal money, officials said.

In praising the council’s confirmation of O’Leary, Lynch repeated his call for a fiscal overhaul at the agency. “There are immediate financial and management challenges that need to be addressed at the department. Chuck O’Leary has the knowledge of the department and a proven record as an administrator making him the right choice to lead the agency over the next several months. He has already begun to examine the challenges facing the department, and I am confident he will soon have some ideas on the best ways to move forward,” Lynch said.

Prior to becoming commissioner in 1990, O’Leary was executive vice president of Chemfab Corp. in Merrimack. – JEFF FEINGOLD

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