North County Transit District, a public transportation agency that relies on private contractors to provide a wide range of its services, doesn’t have an efficient system in place to monitor its contractors or share information between district employees responsible for oversight, according to a recently-released audit of the agency’s contracts department.
This lack of efficiency was one of 19 specific deficiencies that inewsource addressed in an overview of the audit this week. The audit, conducted by SC&H Group, was published in September but was not presented at a public Board of Directors’ meeting until last month.
On Tuesday, we began detailing some of the most newsworthy deficiencies. What follows is information from the audit and examples inewsource has identified:
Observation: “The lack of communication and sharing of how contacts are monitored is inefficient and ineffective. There are no clear documented requirements as to how contracts are to be monitored, communicated, and reported. As part of the invoice review, Project Managers are required to assess contractor performance, verifying that contract conditions are fulfilled. However, the Project Manager does not always communicate what they have done to assess the contractor performance with the Contracts Administrator. Therefore, the Contracts Administrator does not have confidence that the Project Manager is monitoring the contractor appropriately, and outside of the Contract Administrator review, there is no clear oversight of how the Project Managers are assessing the contractors. Additionally, the Project Managers note they are unsure whether the Contract Administrators are performing the review of the certified payrolls, as they are not informed. Finally, it is unclear where the responsibility lies to assess contractor compliance.”
Risk: “Inadequate monitoring of contracts could result in the District paying for services that were inadequate, incomplete, or outside the scope of the work. Lack of communication creates an added challenge in efficiently managing existing contracts.”
This deficiency has been covered extensively by inewsource since February.
It began with an investigation into NCTD’s security services, provided by a private company called Universal Protection Service.
Universal supplies armed guards for the district who patrol and arrest throughout the agency’s trains, tracks and stations. The guards told inewsource they had little-to-no training for the job at hand, despite the company’s contract with NCTD clearly stating that the officers did have the training.
The investigation resulted in NCTD auditing its contracts with Universal. The district found a lack of certifications, compliance and training files.
A separate issue arose last August, when an audit revealed another private contractor — American Logistics Services (ALS) — was out of compliance with its contract with NCTD.
ALS operates NCTD’s LIFT service for the disabled — buses that shuttle disabled people all around the county. NCTD staff didn’t know where ALS’ local office was located or who the point of contact was for their business relationship. Meanwhile, ALS was providing subminimum service to NCTD’s disabled riders, dropping them off at work sites hours early and picking them up hours late — creating a liability for employers and for NCTD.
NCTD Board Chairman Bill Horn, who is an elected official with responsibility for overseeing NCTD, has declined to comment on the SC&H audit or its findings. In fact, Horn has only commented once during the course of inewsource’s ongoing investigation.