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August 06, 2010

State Comptroller's audit finds $600 million in MTA overtime approved without question

State Comptroller's audit finds $600 million in MTA overtime approved without question
Source: Office of the State Comptroller

More than 140 employees at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) doubled their annual salaries through overtime pay last year, according to an audit report released by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli on August 5, 2010. DiNapoli said there was a “culture of acceptance” surrounding overtime abuse at the MTA.

DiNapoli’s audit found that one Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train car repairman received $142,857 in overtime pay, equal to 220 percent of his $64,865 annual salary. One hundred forty four other MTA employees earned more in overtime pay than from their annual salaries in 2009, according to the audit.

The Comptroller said that “Uncontrolled overtime has been the rule rather than the exception at the MT.” Noting that the MTA is cutting services, raising fares and tolls and laying-off employees, DiNapoli said MTA “should be doing more to control expenses.”

In the words of the Comptroller: “Overtime shouldn’t equate to twice someone’s annual salary.

When scores of employees are earning more in overtime than they make in salary, it’s time for the MTA to change the culture of acceptance to a culture of accountability.”

DiNapoli’s audit examined the MTA’s books between January 2008 and December 2009 and found four of the authority’s seven constituent agencies—the LIRR, Metro-North, Bridges and Tunnels and NYC Transit—accounted for almost 90 percent ($540 million) of all MTA overtime.

The audit identified $56 million in potential overtime savings.

Auditors also discovered serious flaws in the MTA central office’s overtime budget practices whereby the central office accepted overtime budgets from constituent agencies without questioning them or making any effort to reduce overtime spending at constituent agencies.

The audit also reports that:

1. More than 3,200 MTA employees at the MTA receive overtime pay equal to half of their annual salaries;

2. Significant amounts of overtime incurred by replacing sick workers, even though no effort was made to find out whether replacements were needed; and

3. Unjustified or undocumented work in 77 percent of sampled overtime transactions.


The full text of the Comptroller’s audit report is posted on the Internet at:
http://www.osc.state.ny.us/audits/allaudits/093010/09s88.pdf

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