The Blame Game

James Kerasiotes painted a bull’s-eye on his own back. In his long career—which culminated in control of Boston’s massive Big Dig project—he had practiced a seek-and-destroy management style toward many who had crossed him. He once even boasted that his boss, Governor Paul Cellucci, was “afraid” of him. He called one Cellucci aide a “reptile” and another a “moron.”

So when the truth about massive Big Dig cost overruns finally emerged last spring, it was no surprise that the blame flew like an arrow straight at Kerasiotes. The project he oversaw has now come under federal investigation for allegedly intentionally misleading federal officials and others—not least, taxpayers and the public—by insisting that the total cost of the nation’s biggest highway project would be $10.8 billion when, in fact, it was closer to $12.2 billion in February and is up to $14 billion now.

It was easy—for many even, irresistible—to fault Kerasiotes for all this. With the investigators closing in, and the project’s multibillion-dollar overruns suddenly laid bare before the nation, local politicians and business interests seemed, like Claude Rains in Casablanca, “Shocked—shocked!” at the disclosures.

The press, which for years was generally lulled into accepting Big Dig budget claims, has now erupted with stories of patronage, questionable contracts, and other tales of outrage. In the end, however, the real story is far bigger than any one scandal or headline. This budget debacle isn’t just about Kerasiotes’s rigid adherence to a budget number that would prove a vast underestimate, apparently based less on accounting than on wishful thinking. It’s about the collective failure of key players, including Cellucci and his predecessor, William Weld, along with legislative leaders and the press, to sniff out and pursue the warnings that began emerging in the early 1990s, and, by the end of the decade, were there for anyone willing to see them.

It was the Big Sleep, a collective nap time for a powerful array of political, business, labor, and other Big Dig trough feeders for whom it was far better to not awake to the truth. Far from setting them free, the truth could have derailed the benefits they were reaping—if not the entire project itself.

“The project was so big and the implications so serious that human nature was to deny the obvious, to deny the reality,” says Michael Widmer, director/president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation (MTF). “That was certainly true for the Weld and Cellucci administrations. The companion piece to this is that they chose to believe what Kerasiotes said because he was so outspoken and so seemingly in control. And because the consequences of not believing were so serious.”


Of course, Kerasiotes and his staff are not without responsibility. Charts existed in the Big Dig offices at least two years before the public was let in on the overruns, for instance. One—which some senior project officials dubbed the “Armageddon chart”—showed that under worst-case scenarios, project overruns could hit $1 billion. It was a grim forecast that turned out to be not nearly grim enough.

Meanwhile, the taxpayers foundation started issuing wake-up calls as early as 1995, when its analysts pointed out that proposed highway bond authorizations were double the amount then contained in the state’s five-year capital plan, including for Central Artery construction. Two years later, the concern continued to grow. “While project managers have done an outstanding job controlling costs over the last several years,” the foundation said in a report on February 24, 1997, “it will take a herculean [sic] effort to keep costs to $6.5 billion [the budget at the time], given the complexity of the upcoming work.”

Kerasiotes, who declined to be interviewed for this article, tried to act the part of Hercules. And a lot of people hoped he could pull of the role, despite signs to the contrary.

What did Kerasiotes tell his own staff? “I don’t know if anyone ever showed Jim the chart because everyone knew that the messenger would be shot,” says a former Big Dig official. “You simply could not be working on this project and not see cost pressures coming at you literally every day.”

Another former project official says Kerasiotes did see the “Armageddon chart.” “It’s not that [people in the project] didn’t know about the number,” he says. “What we didn’t know was how to tell Jim in a way that he would actually be willing to hear it.” (Current Big Dig officials contend they are unaware of the phrase “Armageddon chart,” but they confirm the existence of so-called up/down charts that detail possible cost exposures and offsets.)

People within the CA/T project and elsewhere who tried to warn Kerasiotes faced General Deniability. They were told that added costs could be covered by offsets here and savings there, even after time and space had long run out for such heres and theres. And Kerasiotes would punish people—castigating, humiliating, firing them—when they got in his way. “On time and on budget” was his mantra.

“You had in Kerasiotes an individual who was intent on meeting the [supposed budget] number, and whose style was that if you said something enough times and loudly enough, it would come true,” says Widmer. “He was zealous in keeping financial information not only from the legislature and the public, but also from his own key benefactors—including the federal government and a lot of other key stakeholders—who were critical to the project’s success.”


Ever since a reluctant Cellucci fired Hercules on April 11—after furious federal transportation officials essentially ordered him to do so—stories have flown around town about who else knew what, and when they knew it. Of course, some people are now claiming they knew all along about the overruns. If they didn’t know, they say, it’s only because Kerasiotes withheld information.

“Some people told me it was a waste of time to confront Jim Kerasiotes,” says Andrew Natsios, the longtime Cellucci intimate and former administration and finance secretary whom the governor tapped to succeed Kerasiotes as Turnpike Authority chairman in April. “Some people, when you confront them, back down. Or you hit them with a sledgehammer and they stagger. [Kerasiotes] was deft enough to just get out of the way.”

If Kerasiotes “deliberately failed to inform” administration officials—not to mention legislative leaders—as a federal report stated, how could that possibly have happened?

“Anyone with any intelligence in the administration knew the numbers were wrong,” says a private-sector source close to Big Dig finances. “And maybe they did try to get information. But if they weren’t getting the numbers, they should have gone straight to the governor and told him.” Natsios says he did finally give Cellucci a reality check, but not until two days before Christmas, when Natsios received an inch-thick financial report from the project that made him switch his warning flags from yellow to red.

“It had nothing in it that tells us the cost of the project,” he says. “That figure had been in all previous reports. Then we got their cover letter that said [Big Dig officials] were doing a top-to-bottom review of the cost estimates. That’s when I went to the governor and told him, ‘Paul, we have a huge problem here. We just went to Wall Street [on December 2 and 3] and asked for a credit upgrade.’ He yelled at me—Call [the rating agencies] and tell them what exactly is going on.”

Those “oops” calls to the rating agencies were made jointly by officials from administration and finance, the treasurer’s office, and the Turnpike Authority on January 6. Just the day before, state Treasurer Shannon O’Brien says she ran into Cellucci under the State House arch and told him she was not prepared to sign the due diligence statements—and neither should be.

On January 24 O’Brien had breakfast with Kerasiotes—“it was very cordial,” she recalls—and told him in no uncertain terms that she would not sign off on state bond issues unless she got fuller financial information from both the Turnpike Authority project manager and contractor Bechtel Corp.

“Basically, his answer was that we can cover the cost overruns,” she says. “That’s always been the answer: Don’t worry, we’ll cover the costs, it’s not your problem. I said, It is my problem—I sign off on these bonds. And I can’t attest to the bond holders that you’re right about the numbers just because you’re telling me I should trust you.”

Less than two weeks later, with the budgetary truth written in big black headlines, Kerasiotes had run out of time and ways to put his thumb into the dike of cost overruns. But the questions remain: How could “the number” stick that long? Had no one else warned Cellucci, who as far back as 1992 was charged by Weld with monitoring the CA/T project? If so, why did he stick so Kerasiotes-like to his own “on-time-and-on-budget” motto?

Maybe because Cellucci, like so many others, simply preferred not to heed the weathermen who, it turned out, did know which way the budgetary wind blew.

The taxpayers' foundation was not alone in hinting at real trouble, if not looming disaster, long before this year. In 1992, a Deloitte & Touche study commissioned by Executive Office of Transportation and Construction Secretary Richard Taylor—then in a power struggle with Kerasiotes over control of transportation—warned that the capital cost of all transportation projects proposed for the next decade, including CA/T, would be $21 billion—while only $16 billion was available from state and federal sources. The study recommended tunnel and turnpike toll increases, which Weld—already eyeing reelection—rejected.

Politics was on a lot of people’s minds. Eric Kriss, who oversaw capital budgets for the state in the early 1990s, was interviewed as part of a comprehensive history of the Big Dig prepared by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government researchers. He recalled the Weld administration’s reaction to the Deloitte & Touche cold shower. “Politically oriented people around the table would tell me, Eric, don’t tell me this toll is going to be $5 in 2005. Let’s just worry about what we are telling people in 1993.”

As David Luberoff, coauthor of the report, put it: “The pattern set the first time the administration decided not to cross that bridge in 1992 is the one they followed until they absolutely had to reverse course this year.”

Years later, Weld eliminated several turnpike tolls. He and Kerasiotes celebrated the moment—during Weld’s 1996 Senate campaign against Senator John Kerry—by taking jackhammers to the turnpike toll booth in Newton as photographers clicked away. “The ultimate act of cynicism was Weld chopping down that toll booth when virtually everyone knew that Big Dig costs were going up and that you would need more toll revenue,” Luberoff said.

O’Brien, who, it should be noted, is a Democrat with political aspirations, agrees. “Bill Weld was never concerned about paying today’s bills today,” she says. “Make it some future generation’s problem….Since 1990, this administration has been about cutting taxes but still increasing spending at an exponential rate. That severance of the responsibility of raising the revenues to pay for the problem is what has really created a lot of the pressures we’re facing right now.”

As far back as early 1994, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inspector general’s regional office noted that Big Dig budgets had tripled since the mid-1980s, and recommended that the feds cap further Big Dig spending. The U.S. General Accounting Office, as well as the Massachusetts auditor and inspector general, had by then or would soon release their own reports cautioning about project costs, revenue to cover them, or both.

Such reports were readily available to all the key players who would want them—including, of course, top officials at the Big Dig, people within government, and members of the press.

“The weight of both documentary and public evidence about what was happening, especially by 1997 and 1998, is stark naked, running down the middle of the street,” says a former high-ranking Big Dig official. “The reality was clearly out there.”

In their final debate before the 1994 gubernatorial election, Democratic nominee Mark Roosevelt tried a reality check on Weld:

ROOSEVELT: Now, the large sucking sound you hear is the Central Artery project taking up almost all available funds…we might otherwise be able to get to improve the other roads and bridges in Massachusetts…More than that, sir, your own folks are internally now saying the $7.7 billion figure [the CA/T budget at the time] will not be able to be met. Will you look the people in the eye tonight and promise them that after this election is over, they won’t be getting a new piece of news from you about what we must abandon in this project or cost overruns? Will you look them in the eye, knowing what your own people are saying, and tell us whether you think the $7.7 billion figure is realistic for the project as is now on the books?

WELD (staring into the camera): Yeah, I absolutely will look the people in the eye right now and say we will manage to meet the $7.7 billion figure plus inflation. That’s the word I’m getting from Jim Kerasiotes, who’s the secretary of transportation and construction in charge of the project.

As would happen to future candidates who challenged Big Dig numbers, the media largely dismissed Roosevelt’s claims as mere political posturing.

“Credible candidates like Mark Roosevelt made the Big Dig an issue,” says George Bachrach, a longtime Democratic Party officeholder and candidate, including for governor in 1994, who now teaches journalism and practices law. “An important issue was adequately raised to no avail. The media were convinced a coronation was coming, so any iteration by Roosevelt, who was low in the polls, was simply dismissed, no matter how valid.”

Michael Shea, now a Democratic political consultant, was Roosevelt’s media adviser. Shea was also chief of staff to Fred Salvucci, transportation secretary and Big Dig architect under former Governor Michael Dukakis.

“I kept trying to tell people in the press that the Big Dig was Pulitzer Prize country, but I was just seen as a partisan with motives of my own,” Shea says. “There were some individual exceptions, but for the most part, this was a tremendous failure by the establishment press, which by and large went along with the cover story that things were on budget.”

In that same October 26, 1994, debate, Weld made another claim that was at least slightly disingenuous when he said $1.3 billion in Big Dig overruns was the price “to fix the Charles River crossing, which had been so messed up under the [Dukakis] regime…that it was rejected by environmentalists and the people who would be affected in Boston and Cambridge.”

The cost figure is accurate. The blame is less clear. In fact, say Salvucci, Dukakis, and others, Weld’s own handling of the complicated and contentious Charles River crossing plan helped doom the Big Dig to a decade of schedule and cost overruns.

The river crossing had been the subject of years of debate over cost, environmental, and other issues. But in its last days, the Dukakis administration secured state—though not federal—environmental approval for the crossing plan known as Scheme Z. The plan was indeed flawed, and faced potentially lengthy litigation. But it was in place.

“We’d gone through eight years of struggle to get the overall project approved and budgeted in Washington,” says Salvucci. “We had gone over the [Scheme Z] design in exhaustive detail. I’m not stupid—if a reasonable alternative had existed, I’d have grabbed it. The fact is that, in 1991, Bill Weld comes into office and inherits the biggest public works project in the country with a ribbon wrapped around it.”

Some Weld backers urged the new governor to name Salvucci transportation secretary so he could continue to run the Big Dig. That didn’t happen, but Salvucci did talk to Weld about the project in general and Scheme Z in particular. “I told him that he had to build as soon as possible and, specifically, to not reopen Scheme Z. He seemed to agree.”

Salvucci and others agree Scheme Z design changes were needed. But they say such changes could have been made in less than a year. Weld, however, opted to fully reopen the state environmental impact review. That decision was opposed at the time by Weld’s commissioner at the Department of Public Works, which was then in charge of the CA/T. The commissioner was Jim Kerasiotes.

The result of reopening Scheme Z was a delay of about three years, only to produce a plan that, when finally approved in 1994, “differed only marginally from the all-bridge plan developed…in the spring of 1991,” according to the Kennedy School study.

“Waiting three years for the decision about that bridge cost billions of dollars,” says Dukakis. “That decision should have been made within Weld’s fist six months. And this was during the recession when contractors were coming in with bids that were 25 to 30 percent below estimates. State government lost an opportunity to save a ton of money.”

Part of the problem was that Weld, who prided himself on his hands-off management style and who had campaigned as an antigovernment crusader, no longer had around him experienced transportation officials, Salvucci says. “If you’re going to run a project like this, you need competence and continuity within state government,” he says. “But Weld comes in and starts calling everyone a walrus and underfunds budgets and denigrates what people do, so an awful lot of competence leaves state government. Within six months, the whole management structure on the Big Dig public sector payroll was essentially gone. The only institutional memory left on the job was Bechtel-Parsons,” the project management consultant and primary contractor. “Weld did a frontal lobotomy on the state’s ability to manage Bechtel.”

Then there was Bechtel’s decision to hire Peter Berlandi—a top Weld political fund raiser—as its lobbyist.

“Allowing your chief fund raiser to become a consultant to the primary engineering firm was a terrible mistake,” Dukakis says. “You had a company being paid a lot of money by the state paying a lot of money to a guy to lobby the state? What’s that? Nothing personal at Peter, but that was just unacceptable.”

Berlandi, who severed his ties to Bechtel in 1994, says, “I wasn’t involved in any aspect of this thing that had anything to do with costs or budget. So what is my relevance?”


Scheme Z was not the cause of all Big Dig problems, of course. This enormously complex project was bound to run into problems that would be expensive to fix. Indeed, says an early top official of the project, the whole “build-to-the-number” approach was a mistake.

“These headlines about increases are not new,” he says. “We increased the cost of the project several times as new information came along, and every time we did it we’d take big hits in the press. But it was important that the numbers accurately reflect what we were seeing in the ground. When I was around, we obviously did not get so caught up in this notion of managing to the budget.”

Indeed, what has angered people most isn’t the cost hikes as much as the promises that there wouldn’t be any, says Senator Robert Havern (D-Arlington), chairman of the legislature’s transportation committee. “The outrage was over the fact that no information was out there,” he says. “When you surprise the public, they want to know why you’re hiding the information.”

Consider that comment and go back, again, to 1994 and Weld’s look-the-people-in-the-eye promise. Did he actually know better, even as he stared at that red TV camera light?

In 1994, in fact, Weld heard a different story from a source who should know—officials of Bechtel Corp.—who in a meeting with the governor warned Weld that project costs were exceeding budget claims being made by Kerasiotes.

Weld, who now lives and practices law in New York, did not respond to interview requests for this story. Bechtel—then head of Bechtel Civil—is now retired. Current company officials will not discuss the meeting. “As a matter of course, we don’t discuss what is said during meetings with customers,” says Jeff Berger, a spokesman for the Bechtel-Parsons joint venture.

In a June 21 Boston Globe article, however, Weld confirmed that Bechtel officials warned him of escalating project costs in that 1994 meeting. “Jim [Kerasiotes] had a point of view it was not so,” Weld said. “[Bechtel officials] had a point of view. It was not, I show you this, Mr. Witness, this house of cards that is a smoking gun. I don’t recall being asked to sit as tribunal, finder of fact, between Kerasiotes and the contractor.”

Says Berger: “Over the years, the joint venture has offered a variety of budgets based on a variety of scenarios for completing the job. The decision on how to proceed with that information is our customer’s, not ours.”

Given the highly credible source of the overrun prediction—Gary Bechtel—why didn’t Weld seek to learn more? Why not make sure that The house was indeed not made of cards?

“If the head of the company managing your most significant project tells you your cost estimates are wrong, that should have sent up a red flag which demanded more than a perfunctory response from Jim Kerasiotes,” says Luberoff. “Weld’s response was basically, There’s no problem until Jim tells me there’s a problem. That’s like asking the fox if there had been a fox in the chicken coop.”

Theodore “Tad” Weigle, who was in charge of Bechtel’s Boston office at the time, warned against iron-clad budget guarantees on a project as complex as the Big Dig, even as Kerasiotes kept making them. “These by definition are very, very unpredictable numbers and you just don’t know,” Weigle cautioned reporters in the fall of 1994.

By January 1995, Weigle was gone from Boston.

Reached in Virginia, where he now works, Weigle declined detailed comment. “I can only refer you to our company lawyers,” he says. “There are a lot of things going on and I am not at liberty to talk. Someday the story will come out, I expect. I’m normally the most open person. That may be what caused some of my problems in Boston.”

Asked why Weigle was transferred, Berger says, “Tad left the project to take another assignment from Bechtel.”


Bill Weld left the corner office, and the Big Dig, to Paul Cellucci in 1997. State Treasurer Joseph Malone challenged Cellucci in the 1998 Republican gubernatorial primary. Malone’s main issue: the Big Dig. Malone attacked the project in general and Kerasiotes in particular for withholding information about budget costs, which he said were soaring.

In November 1997, two months before he launched an ad campaign blasting Kerasiotes, Malone was visited by members of the Artery Business Committee (ABC) and other business backers of the Big Dig. Malone, who now oversees business development for a Cambridge dotcom firm, recalls what happened: “They tell me that when Bill Weld and John Kerry were running for the Senate, we got their word that they wouldn’t bring up the Big Dig as an issue. They both stuck with that promise. Joe, why don’t you do the same thing? I said, You’re in the wrong place if you think I’m going to let this boondoggle get further and further out of control. You mark my words. This is going to get to the point where everyone will say, How did we sleep through this whole thing?”

“Their whole message was, Joe, the federal government is picking up 80 percent [of the project’s costs] and that’s good for everyone,” Malone adds. “So the spin was that Malone is going to end up screwing up our federal funding…for his own political benefit.”

Far from retreating, Malone kept up his warnings, and Cellucci kept responding that the project was on time and on budget.

Charles Baker, the Weld/Cellucci secretary of administration and finance until late 1998, says the administration had no reason to believe that budget problems existed. “I had a prickly relationship with the folks at transportation, but generally speaking, we got most of what we were looking for,” says Baker, who now heads Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. “I would say that for the most part we asked most of the right questions and we got what we were asking for.”

“I don’t think [Kerasiotes] had personalized this project any more than anyone might,” he adds. “A project like this needs someone who is willing to be the owner.”

But Malone, who was often criticized as a political grandstander, wasn’t just grabbing numbers out of the air. By then, he had hired the taxpayers’ foundation major CA/T analyst, Steve Adams, to work in the treasurer’s office.

“It wasn’t like they were just on this a day or two,” Malone says of his office’s Big Dig analysts. “They pieced together numbers from the federal government and other sources. They were basically playing a watchdog role, and as it turned out, they were pretty much right on the mark.”

“The Big Dig gets into the tribalism of this state,” Malone continues. “There’s a whole establishment in this state—not a very big one—but it bought on to this thing and if you were a critic, you were…put down by a chorus of voices.”

“You put the political media to sleep and lull the public into believing everything is okay. If billions of dollars are coming into this state from the federal government, then I’m entitled to a portion of that and I know how to work the tribal network. Everyone gloms on to this project—lobbyists, PR companies, law firms, labor unions, the politicians, you name it. They all end up saying, Go Big Dig, Go Big Dig. And then there’s this whole [political] fund-raising engine underneath it,” Malone says.

Artery Business Committee president and CEO Richard Domino, who was Boston’s transportation commissioner from 1985 to 1993, confirms that ABC met with all major candidates during the 1990s to urge them not to “politicize” the Big Dig. “We were trying to referee against the project becoming a political football, never knowing whether someone’s numbers were prepared thoroughly or just sort of scribbled down without solid basis,” Dimino says. “If we here in Massachusetts are beating the crap out of how bad the project management is, from a political standpoint, are we really sending the right message to Washington that this project really is a priority of the state and warrants [federal] resources?”

Dimino says ABC believed Big Dig officials’ claims that all was well. “We found out [the truth] when everyone else found out,” he says. “And we were disappointed by that.”

Malone’s own management abilities were, of course, challenged by discoveries made after he left office. Three people who worked for him in the treasurer’s office have been indicted on charges including embezzlement, conspiracy to commit larceny, and receiving bribes. Four other individuals have been indicted in connection with those events, including Richard Arrighi, Malone’s personal attorney and one of his top political fund raisers.

“Everyone’s jumped on my bones because I didn’t know that people were embezzling. And maybe they’re right. But meanwhile, Cellucci has a guy who is literally lying about billions of dollars—and he not only doesn’t want to get rid of the guy, but when he does, he gives him a $200,000 severance package…For Cellucci to just say now, Well, I put Jim in charge and that was the end of it, is a weak answer,” Malone says.

But that’s pretty much what Cellucci was still saying months after Kerasiotes was gone.

The governor declined a request for a sit-down interview to reflect on the Big Dig process. But he summed up his views in a brief State House hallway exchange.

“In Jim’s defense, this was a very complicated project…Even the federal audit that complained about the intentional withholding of information made it clear that this would be one of the engineering marvels of the 21st century,” Cellucci says. “In his zeal to complete the project, [Kerasiotes] forgot something that’s pretty fundamental in a democracy: People have a right to know what it’s going to cost. He was a very good manager—that’s acknowledged by everyone—but he made a mistake and now we have new leadership which knows that the doors and windows have to be open and we have to double and triple check the numbers.”

Actually, not everyone concedes Kerasiotes’s management abilities. Berating and belittling subordinates—sometimes, even the people paying your bills—is not exactly a prized trait. And on Kerasiotes’s watch, costs, in fact, soared. “Change orders”—adjustments to original contracts—rose an average of nearly 16 percent. Costs for the Ted Williams Tunnel alone rose 25 percent, according to Natsios.

In his brief interview for his article, Cellucci acknowledged that both he and his top budget people met regularly with Big Dig officials to go over costs and other issues. So how could he not know? Cellucci was asked. Why did he, Weld, and other top administration officials for years allow the word of just one man—albeit a loudspoken, intimidating one—to be the final word?

Cellucci didn’t respond directly. “Again, in Jim’s defense, he was counting on a lot of things that will happen, like the sale of [turnpike] real estate. The problem is, you need the money now,” he said.

Once the budget crisis was force-fed to him, Cellucci ordered Natsios to “get to the bottom of it” immediately, the governor notes. By then, Kerasiotes had probably doomed himself with his disparaging remarks printed in the Wall Street Journal about Cellucci and his aides in February; Kerasiotes says the comments were intended to be off the record, but has never denied making them.

Natsios says it took nearly three months before he finally felt he had a grasp of what was really happening at the Big Dig. And he says he can understand why his predecessors were never able to pin down the truth.

Indeed, says Natsios, “I think Cellucci was worried that there may have been a kernel of truth in some of the things that were said about him in the primary. But when you have a senior administrator who answers your questions and you don’t have any concrete evidence to show they’re wrong, how do you confront the person?”

A big part of the problem, he says, was the very structure under which Kerasiotes and the Big Dig operated. “A serious policy decision was made in error in 1997, when the project was moved from the Executive Office of Transportation and construction to the Turnpike Authority,” which, Natsios says, is the only such body in the nation “where the CEO also serves as the chairman of the board that is supposed to be overseeing the performance” of the CEO.

“The Turnpike Authority was designed [from its beginning] to appoint a benevolent despot who had complete control and no accountability,” says Natsios. “It’s not that the governor couldn’t have fired the chairman, but how would the governor find out something was going wrong?”

EOTC was accountable to the kind of executive authority and oversight to which the Turnpike Authority is largely immune, Natsios says. “There are two extremes if you want to do a project like this. You can make it so accountable that you paralyze the project. Or you can reduce all the controls in order to move things more rapidly and you go too far. The system is left with no secondary sources of information. And that’s what happened.”

Natsios agrees that the Big Dig debacle doesn’t lie solely with Kerasiotes. A lot of people just didn’t want to hear the bad news, preferring to believe in Kerasiotes and his bluster.

“That is perhaps part of the calculation in all of this,” he says. “It could be argued that there were a lot of interests in this state that said, Just let it go.”