Waste, Fraud, & Mismanagement

BART Spent $350,000 on Program That Helped One Person, Inspector General Reports

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The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system in San Francisco spent $350,000 on a homeless outreach program that resulted in one confirmed homeless person receiving services, BART Inspector General Harriet Richardson reported February 3.

The two-year program, run by the Salvation Army under a contract with BART, was intended to fund homeless outreach teams at two BART stations on Mission Street and help people with mental health and drug addiction issues. The program was approved in two contracts from July 2020 through July 2022.

During the two-year period, the team reported thousands of contacts with people, but could confirm only one person using the residential treatment services, the inspector general found.

“Meanwhile, BART saw a 21 percent year-over-year increase in unhoused people at its San Francisco stations in the first quarter of 2022,” KTVU News reported. “The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency provided half the funds for the BART-awarded contract.

In a series of additional reports released on the same day, the inspector general also disclosed that BART spent $56,000 in project administration costs that were avoidable, needs to do more to avoid conflict-of-interest violations, and paid employees for time not worked.

“A BART employee, who is not approved for remote work and whose duties are not conducive to remote work, was at their personal residence or other nonwork locations during most of their paid duty-hours,” the inspector general wrote. “For example, the employee claimed to have worked 27 days during one 29-day span and would either report to their duty location for a brief period, such as an hour, and then leave their duty location for the remainder of their shift or not report to their duty location at all. The employee generally used a time-collection device at their duty location to clock in and then, after spending most of the shift away from their duty location and not working, would go to a BART station near their residence to clock out when their shift was supposed to end. Sometimes, the employee would clock in and out at the duty location near their residence, whether they reported to work or not. At other times, the employee’s manager would make a timekeeping-system adjustment to record the employee’s clock in or out time for the day. The manager’s adjustments indicate they may have known the employee was not working their full shift and that the manager, therefore, may be complicit in the theft of wages and benefits.”

The employee discussed in the report typically was paid for 12 hours of work per day, and also received pension benefits, sick leave, vacation accruals, and other benefits.

“BART timekeeping data suggests that the employee’s scheme took place for at least a year and progressively became more egregious over time,” the inspector general wrote. “Our office received an allegation that a BART employee was not reporting for duty despite being paid for working upwards of 80 hours per week. We substantiated the allegation and referred the matter to the BART Police Department to assist with the investigation, which further substantiated the allegation. The employee submitted their resignation the day after learning they had been investigated and BART knew of their theft of time scheme.”