Thursday, June 13, 2013
The highly critical audit of North County Transit District’s contracts department cited 19 specific deficiencies that inewsource addressed in an overview Tuesday. The audit, conducted by SC&H Group, was published in September but was not presented at a public Board of Director’s meeting until last month.
What began as a look into security issues within San Diego’s two transit agencies — the Metropolitan Transit System and the North County Transit District — has morphed into a full-scale investigation into the operations of just one.
Beginning this week, inewsource will detail some of the most newsworthy deficiencies. This one deals with how the contracts department, which is responsible for more than 150 vendors that provide bus and train service, organizes and stores documents:
Observation: “There is no central location or formal methodology in which to store all documents related to contract and project management activities. As such, there are inconsistencies in which documents are stored in the various locations… It was noted that the hard copy folders maintain the most important and complete documentation, as these files are reviewed by the FTA (Federal Transportation Administration) during their triennial reviews. Further, there is no standardization of file nomenclature in electronic folders on the shared drive, as this results in confusion and can prohibit the [Project Manager’s] ability to find files without the assistance of a Contract Administrator or in a timely manner.”
Risk: “Relying on manual paperwork at the expense of automation may prevent timely processing of procurement activities. The lack of a centralized location and formal methodology in which to store procurement documents may result in loss or misplacement of critical documents. As the hard copy folders maintain the most important documentation, there is an increased risk that the documentation maintained in these folders are subject to loss or misplacement. The District may be unable to replace these documents if lost, which could result in litigations or successful protests.”
inewsource can attest to the paperwork “observation.”
When we asked to examine NCTD’s contracts, we were presented with an estimated 15-20 boxes of paper documents, hundreds of pages to a box and thousands of pages in total.
There was no easy way to find specific files. Individual project managers had to be called to come downstairs to physically search for requested contracts. This was eight months after SC&H recommended implementing “a standardized file nomenclature.. and formal methodology in which to store all critical documents.”
As of Wednesday, only one NCTD board member has responded to our initial story. Councilman John Aguilera, from Vista, said the story was eye-opening, particularly the information about the high number of contracts which were awarded without competitive bids.