Money pit MTA kept paying despite poor ratings Contractor: Audit

The financially strapped MTA allowed underperforming contractors to keep working on their dime despite poor ratings, a new audit has found – the latest red flag for the agency as it pushes controversial tolls and seeks an Albany bailout.

The Office of New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli reviewed the MTA’s internal reviews of 10 unnamed, “repeatedly less than satisfactory” contractors — and found that officials “missed opportunities” to flag the problematic ones, resulting in at least two bad ones Apples slipped through the cracks.

“Despite receiving at least three consecutive less-than-satisfactory ratings, three contractors have been given new contracts,” the Court’s office wrote in its note on Wednesday.

Construction workers in an unfinished subway tunnel
The MTA’s methods for screening underperforming contractors need to be revised, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said.
Kevin P. Coughlin / Office of the Governor
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks on a podium at a campaign event.
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli ran for re-election last week.
Stephen Yang

“First, we found a waiver signed by the president of the agency. For the others, there was no documented justification and required approvals to support this decision.”

Auditors analyzed the MTA’s use of a now-defunct system called All-Agency Contractor Evaluation, or ACE, designed to flag contractors who go over budget, miss their deadlines, or make other costly mistakes.

Of the 10 contractors whose ratings the auditors examined, seven were missing documentation showing that the companies’ ACE ratings had been verified, the report said.

MTA Managing Director Janno Leiber
MTA CEO Janno Lieber headed the construction division of MTA from 2017 to 2021.
Paul Martinka

The MTA’s five-year, $55 billion capital building plan is committed to more than $10 billion from the bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law by President Biden last year.

But the agency faces lingering questions about its spending — the first phase of the Second Avenue subway was the most expensive transit line per mile of all time. While officials insist they have taken steps to cut costs, the second phase is said to cost even more.

The MTA’s controversial congestion pricing program would fund the agency’s capital budget aimed at delivering long-awaited subway signal upgrades.

Separately, MTA CEO Janno Lieber has warned that the agency will need an infusion of government funds to sustain its operating budget beyond 2024.

The audit covered contracts from January 2016 to March 2020, and an MTA spokesman argued in a statement that DiNapoli’s findings were irrelevant and outdated because the agency no longer uses the ACE system.

“The audit is old news covering parts of the last decade and since then the MTA has consolidated its capital program into a single agency that has enabled improved oversight with a new contract scoring system,” MTA spokesman Michael Cortez said. Money pit MTA kept paying despite poor ratings Contractor: Audit


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