Today, Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA), Chairman of the House Government Operations subcommittee, released the following statement on the inclusion of the reauthorization of federal funding for WMATA included in the INVEST in America Act:
“I welcome the proposed reauthorization of federal funding for WMATA included in the INVEST in America Act. The bill includes many of the reforms the National Capital Region sought to achieve through the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, including more independence for the WMATA Office of Inspector General, an overall increase in annual federal funding, and operating funds for the OIG. Passing the INVEST In America Act will mean institutional reform for WMATA, the as well as an opportunity to help rebuild America’s infrastructure."
The PRIIA Reauthorization Section of the INVEST in America Act is Section 2901.
Increased PRIIA Funding
The bill reauthorizes PRIIA funding and increases PRIIA funding overall by providing $150,000,000 in the first year and gradually increasing funding to $200,000,000 by year ten.
OIG Reform and WMATA Accountability
The funding is contingent upon several OIG reforms included in the Metro Accountability and Investment Act (MAIA, H.R. 2520):
Establishes independent budget authority for the OIG
Establishes independent procurement authority for the OIG
Establishes independent hiring authority for the OIG
Ensures that the OIG can obtain independent legal advice from a counsel reporting directly to the OIG
Requires the IG to submit recommendations for corrective action to the GM and the Metro Board of Directors
Requires the IG to publish recommendations to the OIG website, with allowances for the removal of personally identifiable information or information that could pose a security risk to Metro systems.
Requires the Metro Board of Directors to provide written notice to relevant Congressional Committees at least 30 days in advance of the removal of the OIG along with an explanation of reasons for removal and supporting documentation.
Prohibits the Board of Directors from removing the IG without 30 day written notification documenting permanent incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, a conviction of a felony or conduct involving moral turpitude, knowing violation of a law or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority, or inefficiency.
The PRIIA section also creates a set-aside for the Metro OIG from the broader PRIIA funding at the rate of at least 7 percent each fiscal year to aid in establishing the OIG’s budget independence.
WMATA Ethics Reform
The PRIIA provision also requires that the Code of Ethics for Members of the Metro Board remain in effect, or that the OIG has concurred with any modifications to the Code of ethics.