MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny today released the overtime reform update for the 3rd Quarter of 2020, which reports on the implementation of the recommendations from the Morrison & Foerster (M&F) LLP report and the Office of the MTA Inspector General (OIG)’s 2019 audit report highlighting MTA’s deficient overtime verification procedures. The quarterly report urges the MTA to finish implementing several reforms that have been delayed by the ongoing pandemic. The goal of the reform recommendations is to meaningfully reign in unnecessary overtime spending and institute management systems andcontrols, that safeguard against waste, fraud, and abuse.
“MTA management cannot continue to slow-walk the overtime reforms my office has been flagging,” said MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny. “While we are sympathetic to how the pandemic has proved challenging, these long-standing, costly control gaps need to be closed. Management must implement all the recommendations to achieve the clearly stated goals of the overtime task force as the path forward to safeguarding against waste, fraud, and abuse.”
As part of OIG’s ongoing monitoring effort, OIG staff followed up directly with individual approvers of overtime who were interviewed for the OIG 2019 audit report. OIG’s 2019 audit report found that MTA management, across 4 agencies lacked the fundamental ability to properly verify overtime claims made by high overtime-earning employees, which could create opportunities for employees to claim overtime that was not worked – or even assigned to them – without being detected. Based on these interviews, the OIG found the agencies’ process of authorizing, scheduling, and documenting overtime – as well as other timekeeping functions – largely remained unchanged since mid-2019 with overtime approvers continuing to rely in places on handwritten, paper records. Given the agencies’ stalled reform for overtime authorization and other timekeeping processes, the OIG is deeply concerned the unaddressed control gaps will continue to present opportunities for overtime abuse.
The OIG is also troubled that the MTA still does not have a timeline for integrating electronic timekeeping systems with payroll. Until timekeeping clocks are integrated with payroll, supervisors can only use electronic time and attendance information well after the fact to identify anomalies, not as a practical daily management tool. While the original deadline of November 2019 for this integration was delayed due to the CoViD-19 pandemic, the MTA missed the updated deadline as well in July 2020. The OIG has not been given an updated timeline for when the integration will take place.
Additionally, OIG highlighted the need for follow-through on a recommendation the MTA claims it has completed. In fact, OIG found that several agencies missed the July 2020 deadline for implementing reformed overtime procedures. The OIG also believes that until an agency has established its own policies and procedures, employees may lack clarity regarding who is responsible for performing key tasks and how and when those tasks should be performed.
On a final note, the OIG provided an update on its investigation of damaged biometric timekeeping clocks. OIG uncovered evidence against an NYC Transit employee for intentionally damaging a Kronos clock on the 9th floor of the NYC Transit building at 130 Livingston Street, Brooklyn. The employee, who has since retired, paid $2,500 in restitution for the damaged clock.
The review was conducted by Audit Supervisor Eileen Teehan-Murphy, Principal Staff Auditor Marsha Desormeaux, Senior Auditor Terrence Dilworth, Staff Auditor William Wassmer, Assistant Staff Auditor Anna Gribbon, and other members of the OIG’s Audit Unit.
The OIG’s report, including findings and recommendations could be accessed here.
The MTA Inspector General encourages all members of the public to reach out with complaints, tips, or to report fraud via the Office’s confidential tip reporting portals: Online here, lhone 1-800-MTA-IG4U (1-800-682-4448) or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.