Audit Faults Montachusett Transit Authority on Fiscal Reporting
FITCHBURG -- An audit recently completed by the state comptroller’s office revealed the Montachusett Regional Transit Authority failed to follow state regulations related to financial transparency and properly documenting use of agency vehicles.
The public-private transportation agency did not follow state regulations for posting financial information online, according to the audit released earlier this month by the Office of State Auditor Suzanne Bump.
“Therefore, MART did not allow the Commonwealth to give the public a sufficient level of transparency regarding MART’s operations,” an overview of the finding read.
MART’s deputy administrator, Bruno Fisher, said Wednesday the transit authority posted the required financial information on its website.
A state law passed years ago requires that Regional Transit Authorities report “appropriations, expenditures, grants, subgrants, loans, purchase orders, infrastructure assistance and other forms of financial assistance,” according to the state’s Executive Office of Administration and Finance.
From there, the information was required to be posted to the state’s comptrollers’ website, according to the audit.
Fisher said MART and representatives from the state’s 14 other regional transit authorities met with state finance office in 2014 and found a lower-cost option to posting the agencies financial information.
Migrating the financial information to the comptroller’s website would have cost the RTAs a combined $1 million, according to Fisher.
Instead, the RTAs began posting the required financial information on their own individual websites.
“We were all posting it on our websites,” he said. “The way (auditors) read the statute was that it should be on the comptroller’s website.”
MART agreed to “develop policy and monitoring controls” to ensure financial information is reported to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance, according to the agency’s response to the audit’s finding.
Links to MARTs financials and those of 13 other RTAs are now posted on Open Checkbook section of the comptroller’s website.
The audit’s second finding showed the three companies that provide service to MART’s transportation routes failed to document use of the agency’s half-dozen maintenance vehicles, creating risk of employee misuse.
“As a result of the lack of monitoring of use, there is a higher-than-acceptable risk that these vehicles may be used by the operating company’s employees for non-business purposes without detection,” the audit states.
These vehicles were driven a combined 305,926 miles in fiscal 2016 and fiscal 2017, according to the audit.
MART contracts with three operating companies, Management of Transportation Services, Management of Transportation Services Gardner and Dial-a-MART, Fisher said.
Fisher said employees of those companies were required to request keys to the maintenance vehicles from supervisors.
“Supervisors knew when the vehicles were going out on road calls. People couldn’t just take them out,” he said.
Supervisors, however, did not record the names of employee who used the vehicles, when and why it was used, for how long, and mileage accrued, said Fisher.
In response, MART made sure the operating companies knew that an existing policy mandating such record-keeping applies to them.
“It’s now being tracked, and we understand that any vehicle that moves, we need to know who it went with and why,” he said.
The Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority was also knocked for the same two compliance issues, according to a separate audit.