Transit leaders missed a key deadline last month to get reforms needed to curb overtime abuse and fraud back on track — after the highly paid executive responsible for the reforms quit, the MTA’s inspector general said Wednesday.
Officials blew through their end-of-February deadline to create a new timeline for reforms after their initial plan veered off course amid the COVID-19 pandemic, IG Carolyn Pokorny revealed at the MTA’s monthly board meeting.
“MTA has now missed the delivery date of February to provide a roadmap for the project, due in part to the departure of the COO who was the lead for this,” Pokorny told board members, referring to former chief operating officer Mario Peloquin.
“I know that hard-working people are really trying their best to get this project back on track, but I am publicly raising the flag to MTA leadership and the board,” she said.
“Somebody needs to be put in charge. This project needs to be pushed and gotten underway to help protect the agency against fraud and abuse.”
Peloquin — who oversaw the MTA’s key overtime and signaling initiatives — quit the MTA last month after less than 15 months in New York.
Officials revealed over the weekend that the Canadian rail industry honcho earned $411,969 in his only full year on the job — more than any other MTA employee.
On Wednesday, Pokorny also called out transit leaders for falling behind on the installation of “biometric” fingerprint timeclocks — which is currently “on hold” as officials determine their timeline moving forward, according to the IG’s office.
The clocks are the linchpin of recommendations put forth by the IG’s office and outside consultants in 2019, as the MTA grappled with allegations of overtime abuse following a series of exposés on LIRR workers pulling in huge paychecks.
“Until integration is achieved, management systems and controls over attendance will remain inadequate,” Pokorny told board members. “It will allow weaknesses to remain that unscrupulous managers and employees could exploit.”
The MTA reported last week that overtime spending had dropped 22 percent in two years — to $1.1 billion — but remains significantly higher than where it stood just six years ago.
Five former and current high-paid MTA employees face federal conspiracy charges for allegedly raking in thousands of dollars in OT and regular pay based on fraudulent hours.
“As we have previously updated the IG, [the 2019] timeline is no longer operational, including COVID-related impacts experienced over the past year,” MTA Chief Communications Officer Abbey Collins said in a statement.
“The MTA is actively developing a revised integration strategy to deliver this complex project and will continue to report to the Board, the IG and the public on our progress as we expect it to be a multi-year effort.”