The highly critical audit of North County Transit District’s contracts department cited 19 specific deficiencies that inewsource addressed in an overview Tuesday. The audit, conducted by SC&H Group, was published in September but was not presented at a public Board of Director’s meeting until last month.

Starting today, we’re detailing some of the most newsworthy deficiencies. This one deals with how the contracts department, which is responsible for more than 150 vendors that provide bus and train service, organizes and stores documents:

North County Transit District

Observation: “There is no central location or formal methodology in which to store all documents related to contract and project management activities. As such, there are inconsistencies in which documents are stored in the various locations… It was noted that the hard copy folders maintain the most important and complete documentation, as these files are reviewed by the FTA (Federal Transportation Administration) during their triennial reviews. Further, there is no standardization of file nomenclature in electronic folders on the shared drive, as this results in confusion and can prohibit the [Project Manager’s] ability to find files without the assistance of a Contract Administrator or in a timely manner.”

Risk: “Relying on manual paperwork at the expense of automation may prevent timely processing of procurement activities. The lack of a centralized location and formal methodology in which to store procurement documents may result in loss or misplacement of critical documents. As the hard copy folders maintain the most important documentation, there is an increased risk that the documentation maintained in these folders are subject to loss or misplacement. The District may be unable to replace these documents if lost, which could result in litigations or successful protests.”

inewsource can attest to the paperwork “observation.”

When we asked to examine NCTD’s contracts, we were presented with an estimated 15-20 boxes of paper documents, hundreds of pages to a box and thousands of pages in total.

There was no easy way to find specific files. Individual project managers had to be called to come downstairs to physically search for requested contracts. This was eight months after SC&H recommended implementing “a standardized file nomenclature.. and formal methodology in which to store all critical documents.”

As of today, only one NCTD board member has responded to our initial story. Councilman John Aguilera, from Vista, said the story was eye-opening, particularly the information about the high number of contracts which were awarded without competitive bids.

See who makes up the board of directors, and which cities they represent


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Brad Racino is a multimedia reporter for inewsource. To contact him with tips, suggestions or corrections, email or call (619) 594-3569.

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Brad Racino was the assistant editor and senior investigative reporter at inewsource. He's a big fan of transparency, whistleblowers and government agencies forgetting to redact key information from FOIA requests. Brad received his master’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in...

One reply on “NCTD is buried in paperwork”

  1. I hope inewsource continues to release an article a week on NCTD, until Matthew Tucker and Deborah Castillo are removed from their positions. You’ll notice that MTS played ball with inewsource, being more cooperative, and officials there made an attempt to address inewsource’s concerns and answer their questions. NCTD has just been defensive from day one on this issue, and their suspicious behavior only leads to more and more questions. NCTD comes up with one response which they have to backtrack on, and then respond again with another error ridden rebuttal. NCTD staff refuses to take responsibility for any errors or even, as on the KOCT interview (posted on NCTD’s own website!) they don’t even want to look forward and learn from their past experiences. Kudos to inewsource for digging deeper and hopefully giving elected officials cover to send these officials to the unemployment line.

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