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Inspector General’s Message

​​​​There has never been a more critical time to instill the public’s confidence in our grand and sprawling transportation system. Our subways, trains, and buses – which for more than a century have served as the lifeblood of our great city and the surrounding region – suffered a series of crippling blows in 2020. Financially, an already delicate, multi-billion budget collapsed as riders avoided public transportation during the global pandemic. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) suffered a series of cruel tragedies as the Authority lost many of our colleagues to COVID-19. We grieve for them, their families, and friends, and in their honor the time has now come to restore and rebuild. All New Yorkers can agree that our region’s ability to rebound is deeply enmeshed with maintaining a healthy, functioning MTA. It will not be easy.

It was while facing this year of unprecedented hurdles that New York became an example of how to tackle an onslaught of unparalleled challenges. During the pandemic, the MTA and its heroic workforce played a vital role in transporting essential workers — keeping the Greater New York area safe and functioning. As a lifelong New Yorker and watchdog of the country’s largest public transportation system, I know that my Office’s role is more vital than ever – not just to the Authority, but the entire region. Each day I have encouraged my team to discover ways to help make the MTA as strong, safe, and fiscally sound as can be on behalf of our riders, taxpayers, and workers. Our contributions include assuring that acts of waste, fraud, and abuse are rooted out, best practices are followed, and those who manage our public transportation system are held to the highest standards. It was this team who, despite the challenges of 2020, did much more than rise to the occasion. Our staff conducted more audits and investigations than the year before, expanded our role as monitors, contributed our know-how and time to the State’s COVID-19 response, and upped our site inspections — all with a can-do spirit.

"Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time."

– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

As New York was engulfed by the pandemic, I tasked many members of my team to a variety of positions across the State’s COVID-19 response task force. Office of the MTA Inspector General (OIG) staff connected New Yorkers to vital resources and services. We monitored the adjustments to the MTA homeless outreach program and emergency purchasing conducted during the crisis months, and responded to the unprecedented demand for information from not just New Yorkers but from people around the world. These efforts are a testament to my team’s commitment as public servants; how willingly they leapt at the chance to help fellow New Yorkers during a deadly pandemic.

We did so while remaining committed to our core mission of serving as the MTA’s watchdog. We published more than two dozen groundbreaking audits and investigations. We evaluated the MTA’s response to homelessness, exposed dangerous working conditions in boiler rooms and other facilities, called for reform to protect the MTA from unscrupulous contractors, and documented how parts of the Authority persist in tracking worker overtime using an antiquated “honor system.” We also collaborated with law enforcement partners on various criminal cases, improved processes to protect workers from being falsely accused of wrongdoing, reviewed MTA’s storeroom security and vehicle usage, and focused on myriad issues in between. In this regard, Team OIG tackled corruption, safety issues, and fraudsters of all stripes.

None of this work could have been achieved on our own. Leveraging our relationships with investigative, prosecutorial, and law enforcement agencies on the federal, state, and local levels, along with the cooperation of countless MTA staff and managers, we have dedicated ourselves to serving New Yorkers, wherever and whenever possible.

You have my word, we have no plans to stop.

Very truly yours,
Carolyn Pokorny

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