Today, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), and Representatives Gerald E. Connolly (D-VA) and Mark Meadows (D-NC) released a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) assessing the planning and implementation of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority’s (WMATA) SafeTrack Plan. In a July letter, the Members requested GAO look into the implementation of the SafeTrack program, as well as examine steps the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has taken to require WMATA to address outstanding safety issues.
Following the release of the report the Members issued the following statement:
"The Oversight and Government Reform Committee will be examining this report and other pressing issues for WMATA in an upcoming hearing. We look forward to working with WMATA, GAO, and other stakeholders to ensure that WMATA fully implements GAO’s recommendations. We will also continue our oversight of Metro’s ongoing effort to again become a safe, reliable transit system that serves the people of the Metropolitan Capital region, the federal workforce, and the 19.3 million visitors who come to their nation’s capital each year.”
• “WMATA’s planning of SafeTrack did not fully align with leading project management practices.” GAO found that WMATA did not “(1) comprehensively collect and assess data on its assets, (2) analyze alternatives, or (3) develop a project management plan before starting work.” WMATA did not follow these practices because “it believed it needed to start work immediately to address critical safety issues.”
• WMATA is using several leading practices to implement SafeTrack and improve the quality of the completed work.
• FTA has used inspections and other tools to direct WMATA to make safety repairs and oversee SafeTrack.
• SafeTrack “will require an additional $40 million in fiscal year 2017 funding.”
• WMATA is now working with FTA to develop an asset inventory.
• SafeTrack “indicates that WMATA is now committed to preventative maintenance, including the repairing of track assets before they break.”
• “Through SafeTrack, WMATA has accomplished a substantial amount of repair work to bring its track infrastructure closer to a state of good repair.”
• SafeTrack in and by itself will not fix many of the systemic and organizational issues faced by WMATA.