It looks like much to the surprise of no one, there's considerable waste and malfeasance taking place at the perpetually-taxpayer-bailed-out MTA.
A new MTA inspector general's report has revealed that MTA track engineers - to quote Rep. Al Green talking about Citadel earlier this year - "have been naughty for some time".
The inspector general is reportedly "furious" after the findings of an 11 month investigation found that seven NYC Transit track inspectors were skipping inspections and falsifying inspection reports. The employees in question have been suspended, according to an RT&S report.
But rather than fire all seven employees - in true taxpayer funded fashion - only one was fired while "six of the track inspectors received a final warning that similar conduct could result in termination and are prohibited from performing track inspections for five years," the report says.
The MTA Inspector General (OIG) also, as part of the probe, performed an audit to determine how such deception could occur without management’s knowledge. The answer? There could be "significant, systemic issues with how supervisors and managers at NYC Transit oversee the work of track inspectors".
MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny said: “It is appalling that so many track inspectors, on so many occasions, skipped safety inspections, filed false reports to cover their tracks, and then lied to OIG investigators about it. Management needs to utilize a technology that will ensure supervisors can verify when inspectors do their job – and when they do not.”
You can read the full MTA/OIG report here. Its findings were summarized as follows:
- Supervisors did not verify track inspectors’ walks, either in real time or after the fact. Track supervisors until recently were expected to rely on a series of self-reported status updates from the inspectors to confirm that inspections were occurring daily. Supervisors were not expected to directly observe inspectors in the field and thus did not know that some inspectors were not actually performing their inspections as assigned.
- Interim controls that Track put in place after the OIG investigation report was issued create records that could be analyzed retroactively with much effort but do not provide assurance in real time.
- The new IT application (Infor EAM) rolled out in the first quarter of 2021 for track inspections does not take full advantage of the technology’s capability to quickly place the inspector at a given location at the appropriate time. One limitation is that the application cannot make use of the GPS feature on cellphones to track employees directly due to a pre-existing agreement between management and the union not to do so except for certain circumstances.
- Track’s policies, oversight, and monitoring of workers’ cellphone usage are inadequate.
The inquiry was opened back in January 2020 after reports of track debris large enough to cause damage and injury were reported. The failure to spot the debris had the OIG "concerned that inspectors might not be walking their assigned sections". A follow up investigation "repeatedly found inspectors, who work with limited oversight, absent from their duties."
In addition to simply not doing their jobs, track inspectors were also found to be using their personal cell phones when they were supposed to be inspecting, creating a "safety hazard for themselves, other employees, and customers; and further illustrating their lack of attention to their duties".
And it starts with the tone at the top: track supervisors did not verify track inspectors’ walks, either, the report also revealed.
Looks like it's time for another fare hike!