SANDAG Executive Director Hasan Ikhrata and deputy CEO Coleen Clementson attend a SANDAG board meeting in San Diego, May 13, 2022. (Zoë Meyers/inewsource)

The head of the San Diego Association of Governments was evaluated Friday, but no details were released to the public.

After meeting behind closed doors for hours, SANDAG board members emerged from the performance review with no reportable action. That means the public doesn’t know how board members rated Ikhrata’s performance after a series of damning internal audits flagged major policy problems under his watch.

Why this matters

As the regional planning agency, the San Diego Association of Governments uses a more than $1-billion, taxpayer-funded budget to make long-term decisions on major transportation and infrastructure projects.

It was the third time Ikhrata has been formally evaluated while heading the regional planning agency since 2018. Board members decided to meet in closed session for the latest evaluation, a departure from 2021 when they held a public review and determined he exceeded expectations.

State law allows Ikhrata’s job evaluation to be conducted privately. But compensation must be discussed in open session, and Ikhrata’s roughly $414,000 salary remains the same after board members didn’t grant a raise or a performance bonus as allowed under his contract.

Ikhrata had said before his evaluation that he believed he had fulfilled the board’s expectations, citing accomplishments such as the Blue Line trolley extension and progress on a major transportation center that the agency has dubbed the Central Mobility Hub.

But his job review came after SANDAG’s Office of the Independent Performance Auditor found millions of dollars worth of increases to vendor contracts with insufficient documentation and employee credit card misuse, including Ikhrata’s own questionable spending.

New policies on agency credit cards have since been implemented, and a further audit on contracts is pending.

Though board leaders discussed disbanding the independent auditor’s office and replacing it with outside consultants, SANDAG ultimately decided in a unanimous vote Friday to keep it as an internal position. 

Mary Khoshmashrab, the agency’s first-ever independent performance auditor, is set to retire later this year.

Type of Content

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Jennifer Bowman serves as inewsource's Assistant Editor. Before that, she was an investigative reporter focusing on government accountability issues in southern San Diego and Imperial counties. She also used to cover education. She’s happy to be back in her hometown after stints at daily newspapers...