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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Headquarters and Capital Construction
Travel and Entertainment Expenses


Issued: February 2, 2015
Link to full audit report 2013-S-47
Link to the 90-day response

Purpose
To determine whether the expenses incurred by Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Headquarters and MTA Capital Construction for travel and entertainment were appropriate and documented for MTA business purposes. The audit primarily covers the period January 1, 2011 through October 2, 2013. Also, certain matters pertaining to the Chairman’s Fund encompass the period from January 2011 through February 2014.

Background
The MTA is a public benefit corporation providing transportation services in and around the New York City metropolitan area. It is governed by a 23-member Board of Directors, whose members are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the State Senate. The MTA has six constituent agencies, including MTA Capital Construction (MTACC), which is responsible for the planning, design, and construction of major MTA projects. The MTA has a Headquarters (MTAHQ), which provides administrative support services for the six constituent agencies.

The MTA issued the All-Agency Travel Policy Directive entitled “Travel and Business Expense,” which pertains to MTAHQ as well as the MTA’s constituent agencies. During the period January 1, 2011 to October 2, 2013, MTAHQ and MTACC spent $1,217,483 on travel and another $85,568 on entertainment.

Key Findings

  • MTAHQ and MTACC have opportunities to strengthen controls over travel and entertainment, which could help reduce certain costs. For example, MTAHQ and MTACC could utilize federal travel guidelines (established by the U.S. General Services Administration and the U.S. Department of State) pertaining to maximum allowable lodging rates. For the travel-related payments we reviewed, $9,326 could have been saved if the federal lodging rate limits were applied.
  • Certain travel transactions lacked proper prior approvals, statements of purpose, or other required supporting travel documentation (such as hotel invoices and receipts). Business office staff did not consistently ensure that all required approvals and supporting documents were included with employees’ travel expense reports.
  • We identified weaknesses in certain controls pertaining to the use of MTA corporate travel and procurement cards. For example, we reviewed 37 MTAHQ corporate travel card transactions and determined that 18, totaling $46,045, did not have the required travel expense reports and supporting documentation.

Key Recommendations

  • Revise the All-Agency Travel Policy Directive to require MTA’s travel agent and MTA employees to request lodging rates established by the U.S. General Services Administration or the U.S. Department of State, and when unsuccessful in obtaining such rates, to document those efforts.
  • Advise supervisors who approve employee travel to verify that lodging rates are consistent with GSA and DOS rate limits. Also, advise such supervisors to ensure that unsuccessful efforts to obtain GSA or DOS rates are adequately documented.
  • Establish controls to ensure that travelers obtain proper prior approvals and submit travel
    justifications and all supporting documentation, as required by the MTA travel policy.

Other Related Audit/Report of Interest

Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation: Selected Aspects of Discretionary Spending (2013-S-11)


State Government Accountability Contact Information:
Audit Director: Carmen Maldonado
Phone: (212) 417-5200; Email: StateGovernmentAccountability@osc.state.ny.us
Address: Office of the State Comptroller; Division of State Government Accountability; 110 State Street, 11th Floor; Albany, NY 12236