Amtrak's New Cost Accounting System Is a Significant Improvement But Concerns Over Precision and Long Term Viability Remain
On March 27, 2013, we issued a report on the results of our audit of Amtrak’s Performance Tracking (APT) system.
Implemented in 2010, APT, Amtrak’s new cost accounting system, allows Amtrak to capture and report on its financial performance by route, line of business and major activity as required by the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (PRIIA). While APT is a significant improvement over its predecessor, implementation problems and heavy reliance on cost allocation have affected the timeliness and precision of its reports. Moreover, its highly customized design will make APT costly to maintain, raising concerns regarding its long-term utility. Finally, while not yet implemented, the avoidable cost methodology that FRA developed to determine the cost savings from a route’s discontinuation has significant limitations that would substantially reduce the value of estimates provided to Amtrak and Congress of the savings that could result from eliminating that route.