This one is going to cost us way more than Charlie’s proverbial nickel. The Baltimore Sun reports:
The Maryland Transit Administration failed to verify the accuracy of millions of dollars in contractor-submitted architectural and engineering costs for the Red and Purple light rail lines, according to a state audit released Monday.
The unverified labor bills from four contractor groups hired to work on the two pending transit lines, scheduled for Baltimore and the Washington suburbs, respectively, account for or relate to $232.8 million in overall costs under the multibillion-dollar projects, the audit found.
And we ought to be concerned that the accuracy of expenditures were not verified because:
The joint ventures were originally awarded contracts not to exceed $280 million, but the value of those contracts was increased in July 2013 to $547.1 million, the audit found.
The lack of checks on expenditures has led to waste such as:
• $10 million in overpayments to Mobility Paratransit Program vendors for fuel.
• Nearly $500,000 in payments of excise tax on fuel that the agency is exempt from paying.
This no worries attitude is especially shocking because one of the major firms involved in the project–Parsons Brinckerhoff–also played a key role in designing the fiasco known as the Silver Spring Transit Center.
Failing Disabled Marylanders
The audit further legitimated claims by disability rights advocates that MTA is failing them::
The audit also found the agency failed to properly oversee eligibility for its mobility program, something advocates for people with disabilities also alleged in a lawsuit recently filed against the agency.
MTA does not contest the audit’s results.
Who in MTA is responsible? Will anyone be held accountable for this two-fold scandal–not just waste of public funds but failure even to keep track of how they are being spent?