Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road

 

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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Taxpayers' Guide to State and Local Audits

Metropolitan Transportation Authority - Long Island Rail Road
Selected Travel Expenses


Issued: March 23, 2015
Link to full audit report 2013-S-77

Purpose
To determine whether the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) - Long Island Rail Road’s (LIRR) expenses for travel and entertainment were appropriate and documented for MTA business purposes. The audit covers from January 4, 2011 through September 30, 2013.

Background
The MTA is a public benefit corporation and a component unit of the State of New York, whose mission is to continue develop, and improve public transportation and to implement a unified public transportation policy in the New York metropolitan area. One of the MTA’s constituent agencies is the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) whose purpose and mission is to provide highly efficient commuter rail service between New York City and points throughout Long Island. The MTA issues policies, procedures and rules for its staff to follow. The MTA created the All-Agency Travel Policy Directives entitled “Travel and Business Expense” (travel policy directive) that affects the MTA Headquarters as well as MTA’s six constituent agencies. LIRR’s travel policy includes the use of cash advances, because the LIRR does not issue travel corporate cards and many LIRR employees use cash advances to pay for their travel expenses. The travel policy also contains language regarding mileage when the employee is in official travel status. In addition, the LIRR has a personal vehicle policy for mileage reimbursement when the employee is not in official travel status.

Key Findings

  • MTA’s travel policy directive does not clearly state all the requirements or procedures the staff need to take with regard to travel related transactions. This has caused the LIRR to incur higher than necessary travel expense.
  • Employees did not return unused cash advance monies within the time frame required by the LIRR Travel Policy.
  • LIRR officials did not perform any analysis for personal vehicle usage but they do perform a cost benefit analysis when determining whether to purchase a new vehicle.

Key Recommendations

  • Revise the All-Agency Travel Policy Directive to require MTA’s official travel agent and MTA employees to request the GSA or DOS-established lodging rates and, when unsuccessful in obtaining those rates, to document those efforts.
  • Perform cost benefit analysis to ensure that personal vehicle use is in the best interest of the agency, as LIRR policy requires. Rent or lease vehicles as an alternative option when conducting the required cost benefit analysis.
  • Develop a tracking notification system where each stage of the travel process is tracked and timed.

Other Related Audits/Reports of Interest

Metropolitan Transportation Authority: Headquarters and Capital Construction Travel and Entertainment Expenses (2013-S-47)


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