Muni audits don’t happen every day — after all, the much-ballyhooed review released Tuesday was limited to looking into transit operator overtime and to the MTA Board of Directors; it’s been 14 years and counting since there was a full review of the agency.
Among the audit’s findings were that the MTA Board of Directors don’t regularly discuss Muni audits. It may come as a surprise, then, that before changing a single bus driver’s schedule or forming MTA Board committees, Muni will audit its audit and release the findings on May 18, Muni Director Nat Ford said.
It’s not that Muni disagrees with the audit’s findings, which included absurd scenarios for drivers not showing up to work and then earning overtime, and the MTA Board not really doing much of anything (including showing up Wednesday to talk about the audit, but more on that later).
Indeed, “We generally concur with many of the auditor’s recommendations,” said MTA Director Nat Ford on Wednesday. “However, it’s clear that further review and analysis of the auditor’s findings, calculations, and assumptions are required.
Therefore, the MTA will prepare a comprehensive analysis of the recommendations set forth in the audit by May 18.”
Some many find irony in this statement, as one of the audit’s findings was that the MTA “does not have an internal audit function,” and one of the recommendations was that “minimally, [the MTA] needs a much more formal process in terms of requesting audits and calendaring audits” to get an idea of what the hell it’s doing. The seven audits given to the MTA in recent years — dealing with cable cars, parking garages and other limited-scope subjects — “were generally not discussed” by the MTA board, according to the Budget Analyst’s Office.
In fact, much isn’t really discussed by the MTA Board — not even rampant driver overtime, which is nearly half of all city employee overtime. Once, discussion of OT was scheduled by the Board but it was removed from the meeting’s agenda.
Among the things the Board has yet to discuss publicly is — wait for it — the audit. MTA Board Chairman Tom Nolan’s presence was requested at Wednesday’s hearing at the Board of Supervisors, but Nolan wasn’t there. He did send Ford some sort of statement, however, which Ford read to the supervisors.
That statement’s a fun read — with “apples to oranges” and “forests for trees” language — but the summation is thus: “Given the current financial situation and the rather explicit charter of limitations, I don’ t see how this agency could be run better.”
Ford confirmed that MTA gives work to outside consulting agencies like Booz Allen Hamilton and Associates, but did not say whether or not that firm or another outside firm specifically would be preparing the MTA’s rebuttal.
Either way, expect more audit fun on May 18, and then again in the fall, when a second MTA audit is expected to be released.