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February 27, 2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

State Audit Finds Rochester Transportation Authority Incorrectly Administered Compensation Program

Top executives at the Rochester-Genesee Regional Transportation Authority (RGRTA) collected 57 percent of the authority’s salary bonuses over a three-year period because the authority rewarded collective achievements instead of individual efforts, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.

“My auditors found that RGRTA gave out most of its incentive bonuses for collective achievements despite legal opinions and directives guiding authorities to do otherwise,” DiNapoli said. “RGRTA should fix this problem and make sure bonuses are primarily given out for truly outstanding individual efforts.”   

RGRTA, which provides public transportation services in Rochester and several surrounding counties, has had a performance incentive program, or bonus program, to reward its employees for meeting performance goals since 2005.

For the three years ended March 31, 2014, RGRTA distributed a total of $1.8 million in bonuses. The incentive program directed $1 million (or 57 percent) of that total to upper management.

A series of legal opinions and directives issued by various state oversight agencies provide guidance for public authorities on how performance incentive programs should be administered which, among other things, must be directly tied to the services each employee renders. However, over the scope of the audit, RGRTA transitioned its program to one based exclusively on collective performance. Upper management’s incentives were not linked to specific work they performed. In fact, auditors found that more than 90 percent of the awards sampled were tied directly to collective goals, not to individual performance.

Further, for the employees sampled for review, auditors often found that the authority did not maintain documentation supporting how the employees met or exceeded performance criteria.

In comparison to other upstate New York transportation authorities, RGRTA awarded its executives the largest bonuses. For the years audited, at least 17 RGRTA managers were given at least $5,000 each year under the incentive program.

Auditors compared RGRTA’s awards with those made by the Central New York Regional Transportation Authority (CENTRO), Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), and Capital District Transportation Authority (CDTA). Based on data reported to the state for 2011-12 and 2012-13, no CDTA or CENTRO employee received an award of more than $1,500. Further, no NFTA employee received an incentive award over $5,000. Most NFTA incentives were small payments to operational staff.

DiNapoli’s auditors also noted that the performance awards were given despite lackluster results. According to the authority, between 2011-12 and 2012-13, annual ridership declined by 1.3 percent, operating revenue declined by $100,000, and operating expenses increased by $3.4 million. RGRTA’s Board of Directors eased a number of goals for 2012-13 after failing to meet them the year before, including goals related to net income and ridership growth.

For the complete audit, including RGRTA’s response, see the Performance Incentive Program audit.

In a separate report, DiNapoli’s auditors found RGRTA generally had adequate controls and accountability over fuel procurement, delivery, storage, and usage.

However, auditors identified certain weaknesses in subsidiaries’ fuel purchasing and monitoring practices. Further, while the authority purchased the correct type of fuel for buses, it paid more than necessary for fuel at two subsidiaries.

DiNapoli recommended RGRTA:

  • Ensure subsidiaries accurately log daily fuel consumption for each bus. Periodically verify that subsidiaries reconcile the logs to the corresponding fuel supplier invoices;
  • Work with the supplier to ensure the fuel pump gauges function properly;
  • Re-evaluate the fuel agreement for one subsidiary with the private vendor to determine if a more competitive rate is available; and
  • Establish a contract between the authority and Wyoming County for fuel procurement aimed toward obtaining fuel at the lowest available price.

For a copy of that report, see the audit: RGRTA Fuel Purchases.



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