Press Releases

Controller Yee Appoints Civil Engineering Professor and
Expert Witness to High-Speed Rail Authority Peer Review Group

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SACRAMENTO—State Controller Betty T. Yee today announced a new appointee to the group that reviews planning, engineering, and financial plans for the nation’s first high-speed rail system.

Dr. William Ibbs, a civil engineering professor and consultant with 40 years of global experience with large infrastructure projects, is Controller Yee’s second of two appointments to the California High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) Peer Review Group (PRG). The PRG has eight positions with various areas of expertise established by statute. The Controller selected Ibbs for his expertise in scheduling and cost control for large projects. Ibbs fills the seat previously held by his friend and colleague, renowned transportation scholar Martin Wachs, who passed away in April. Wachs was appointed by Yee is 2015. Ibbs joins civil engineer Bijan Sartipi, appointed by Yee in 2018. 

“Mr. Wachs’ passing leaves a tremendous void,” said Yee, the state’s chief fiscal officer. “We are moving to appoint his successor to ensure continuity. With repeated delays in the construction of high-speed rail in California, Dr. Ibbs’ deep understanding of construction management and the cost impacts of project change orders will provide much-needed perspective to the peer review group’s work.”

Ibbs earned his bachelor and master of science degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley – all in civil engineering with an emphasis in construction management. Ibbs has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in construction management at UC Berkeley since 1987, specializing in cost estimating, cost control, and scheduling. He began his teaching career at the University of Illinois from 1981 to 1987. He has been published extensively and serves as an expert witness in state and federal courts and in international arbitration.

In addition to his academic career, Ibbs is the founder and leader of The Ibbs Consulting Group, where he has worked on large public and private infrastructure projects around the world including Boston’s “Big Dig” and numerous transportation systems, refineries, hospitals, and more.

HSRA business plans to be reviewed by PRG include estimates of capital costs, service levels, operating and maintenance costs, and environmental review schedules. PRG also plays a key role in reviewing estimates of anticipated funds, private and public funding agreements, potential impediments to completion, reasonably foreseeable risks and mitigation strategies, and HSRA funding plans prior to certain appropriation requests. 

The high-speed rail system is slated to run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in less than three hours, reaching speeds of more than 200 miles per hour. The system eventually will extend to Sacramento and San Diego. Development will be funded by bond proceeds from Proposition 1A of 2008, federal support, and other state and local funds.

As the chief fiscal officer of California, Controller Yee is responsible for accountability and disbursement of the state’s financial resources. The Controller has independent auditing authority over government agencies that spend state funds. She is a member of numerous financing authorities, and fiscal and financial oversight entities including the Franchise Tax Board. She also serves on the boards for the nation’s two largest public pension funds. Elected in 2014 and reelected in 2018, Controller Yee is the tenth woman elected to a statewide office in California’s history. Follow the Controller on Twitter at @CAController and on Facebook at California State Controller’s Office.