Lessons Learned From the East Side Access Project Can Enhance FTA’s Oversight of MTA’s Reporting on Remaining ARRA Grants
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has committed nearly $2.7 billion in Federal funding to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) East Side Access (ESA) project, including the most American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) New Starts funding of any project ($195.4 million). Our objectives were to determine whether (1) MTA’s controls over the materials purchased with ARRA funds were sufficient to safeguard those items, and (2) FTA ensured that MTA met ARRA’s certification and reporting requirements for ESA. We found that MTA safeguarded the ESA materials purchased with ARRA funds and met ARRA certification requirements for the ESA ARRA New Starts funds. However, MTA’s Section 1512 reports omitted required data that FTA quality reviews did not detect. Specifically, MTA’s final report did not include required vendor payment information for over $19 million (nearly 10 percent) of the ESA ARRA grant funding. Because FTA’s data quality reviews did not identify these omissions in MTA’s required Section 1512 quarterly reports, it underreported vendor payment data to the public. We recommended that the Federal Transit Administrator: 1) identify and validate the steps MTA plans to take to improve the accuracy of the vendor payment data in its Section 1512 reports to prevent future omissions; and 2) perform an additional data quality check when reviewing the final report for each of MTA’s three remaining FTA ARRA grants. FTA fully concurred with our two recommendations and provided appropriate planned actions and target dates for their completion. We consider the two recommendations resolved but open pending completion of all planned actions.