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Officials Propose $1.7M Budget Increase for BART Watchdog

Written by Bay City NewsPublished Mar. 29, 2023 • 7:01pm
A BART train speeds past a passenger platform in San Francisco on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2022. | Benjamin Fanjoy/The Standard

BART would more than double the budget for the transit agency's internal investigative office under a proposal announced Wednesday by BART and Metropolitan Transportation Commission officials.

The proposal by BART General Manager Bob Powers and MTC Executive Director Andrew Fremier would expand the annual budget for BART's Office of the Inspector General from $1 million to $2.7 million.

Much of the budget increase would come from 2018's Regional Measure 3, a voter-approved bridge toll hike intended to pay for transportation infrastructure improvements across the Bay Area. BART would also allocate $600,000 from its operating budget to support the OIG, according to Powers and Fremier.

In addition to providing funding for infrastructure projects, Regional Measure 3 created the OIG to ensure BART was properly spending public funding.

A 2022 report by the Alameda County Civil Grand Jury argued that the BART OIG "is significantly underfunded and unable to fulfill its mission of uncovering waste, fraud and abuse."

The office had just three employees until March 17, when Inspector General Harriet Richardson resigned, arguing that her office was repeatedly hamstrung by both BART management and a lack of resources.

"BART is committed to ensuring a smooth transition and supporting the office with increased resources to help investigate waste, fraud, and abuse complaints," Powers said in a statement.

The Bay Area Toll Authority, which operates under the MTC's umbrella, is expected to consider the budget increase this spring.

The BART Board of Directors will also consider adopting the increase in June as part of the agency's annual budget process.

Copyright © 2023 Bay City News, Inc.

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