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Investigation into 'excessive' overtime underway: MTA

Patrick Foye's call comes as the MTA is under fire over a payroll report released last week that revealed alarming overtime payments to some workers.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said in a statement

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said in a statement Wednesday that he has directed the presidents of the LIRR, Metro-North and New York City Transit bus and subway system to conduct a review of overtime procedures. Photo Credit: Corey Sipkin

The head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority on Wednesday called for two separate investigations into overtime practices at the MTA’s operating agencies, to ensure “excessive” overtime paid to some employees was legitimately earned.

In a statement, MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said he has directed the presidents of the LIRR, Metro-North and New York City Transit bus and subway system to conduct a review of overtime procedures and regulations with a focus on the last 12 months of overtime claims and payments “to ensure all were earned and appropriate.”

In addition to internal investigations, Foye said he has asked MTA inspector general Barry Kluger to conduct his own review of recent overtime payments to “ensure that they were appropriately planned for, scheduled, signed off upon, and that the claimed hours were, in fact, worked.”

The internal reviews are to be conducted over the next 60 days, with agency presidents then reporting their findings to the MTA Board.

“If this investigation suggests we need to look back farther than 12 months, we will do so,” Foye said. “It is important that we are doing everything we can to carry out the work of the MTA efficiently and cost effectively. We have strict procedures and regulations in place regarding scheduling and payment of overtime. Those procedures either must be followed or we need to implement stronger rules on day-to-day procedures."

Foye’s call comes as the MTA is under fire over a payroll report released last week that revealed alarming overtime payments to some workers. The agency’s highest-paid employee in 2018, LIRR chief measurement officer Thomas Caputo — took home $344,147 in overtime, on top of his $117,499 salary. A subsequent Newsday analysis found that the LIRR’s overtime costs have grown by 51 percent over the past four years.

Asked to respond to Foye’s call, Anthony Simon, general chairman of the Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Union — the LIRR’s largest labor organization — said Wednesday it is up to MTA management to prioritize its needs. The LIRR’s increased overtime comes as the agency has taken on several infrastructure projects to expand capacity and reverse failing service.

“The workers on the LIRR when called upon to work and when asked to remain on duty for long shifts do so with pride and responsibility to the aggressive projects that have been put in motion by the agency,” Simon said. “If the agency has concerns about how that is taking place, they can share what they learn through their management team and we can discuss it in good faith, as we always do.”

The second investigation was confirmed by Kluger's office Wednesday and will be "consistent with the chairman's request" to open up a review of the MTA's overtime program.

Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Huntington), who is among several state lawmakers to push for financial reforms at the MTA, said Long Islanders find the recently reported overtime figures "outrageous," and said Foye's proposed investigations are appropriate.  

"It is clear that real, systematic changes need to be instituted and that outside entities, such as independent auditors, and legislative oversight should also play a role in fixing this problem," Kaminsky said.

Foye also has ordered a review of all time and attendance verification systems at the MTA's facilities to make sure work hours and attendance are reported accurately.

“The MTA is funded by taxpayers and is responsible for the safe transport of millions of people each day,” Foye said. “It is critical that we earn and maintain the public trust, every day. Ensuring that every dollar spent on overtime is in fact being spent properly is part of that mission."

MTA OVERTIME PLAN

1. MTA chairman Patrick Foye directed the presidents of the LIRR, Metro-North and New York City Transit subway and bus system to conduct a review of overtime procedures, with a focus on the last 12 months of claims and payments.

2. The agency presidents are to complete the investigations within 60 days and present their findings to the MTA Board.

3. Foye separately asked the office of MTA inspector general Barry Kluger to conduct its own review into MTA overtime payments “to ensure that they were appropriately planned for, scheduled, signed off upon, and that the claimed hours were in fact worked.”

4. Foye ordered a review of all time and attendance verification systems at MTA facilities over the next 30 days to make sure they are working properly. Those findings also will be presented to the public.

Source: MTA

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