One word we continually heard in 2021 was “unprecedented.” The country, not just the New York area, was grappling with an ongoing pandemic, extreme weather, and public cries for police reform and transparency. These issues, along with New York City’s homelessness crisis and the ever-present risk of crooked actors attempting to steal from New York’s taxpayers and riders, were all key areas of focus for the Office of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority Inspector General (OIG) over the last 12 months.
In this new era of uncertainty, OIG remains firmly committed to its core mission to make recommendations for action when we find fraud, waste, and abuse. We work on behalf of the millions of riders, taxpayers, and a workforce of more than 70,000 devoted public servants. And this focus has not changed.
Our new normal is one rich with possibility and opportunity. We salute our frontline MTA colleagues who became “heroes moving heroes” and kept our great transit system running through some of its darkest days. Now, as residents and visitors continue returning to this vast public transportation network, we have a critical role in building riders’ trust in the system that is vital to the lives of millions and the economy of the region.
We are proud to embrace our work with a strong sense of transparency, honesty, and communication. These qualities serve as our guides and have never been more important. Over the last year our office has:
- Promoted safety by uncovering the irresponsibility of 7 track inspectors who put New Yorkers in harm’s way by ignoring their duties. OIG recommended ways for NYC Transit to increase its oversight and detect such conduct in the future.
- Restored trust by auditing agency-issued credit cards used by employees for work-related purchases, finding that NYC Transit did not provide adequate oversight for nearly $2 million of procurement purchases in early 2020, when the agency was making more purchases on an emergency basis due to the COVID-19 pandemic than it normally would.
- Offered a path forward with twin audits of the MTA Police Department and Bridge and Tunnel peace officers that revealed flaws in how each agency tracked complaints against its law enforcement personnel and helped both organizations establish deeper trust with the public they are sworn to protect and serve.
These cases, and many more, are why our office has been committed to creating an increased level of openness. In 2021 alone we publicly issued over 100 recommendations for best practices throughout all agencies within the MTA.
Our transparency throughout the past year has strengthened our most precious resource: the public’s trust. It promotes efficiency and effectiveness in government, and with each audit or investigation we’ve shared in 2021, we offer new proof of this truth.
It cannot be overstated: Such trust is not easily earned, and it remains a foundational component to restoring our riders’ faith in the safety and efficiency of the MTA. Count on OIG to never cease in our pursuit of the public’s trust and respect.
– The work reflected in the 2021 Annual Report was done under the leadership of former MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny –