BART’s Inspector General Resigns Amid Ongoing Financial Woes
The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system is currently facing a dire financial situation, and the situation has only worsened with the recent resignation of the agency’s Inspector General, Harriet Richardson. Richardson is leaving the Office of the Inspector General with four and a half months left on her four-year term, citing a lack of cooperation from BART’s staff, board, and unions.
During her tenure at BART, Richardson conducted several audits that highlighted allegations of wage theft, conflicts of interest, and opaque spending. However, she faced obstruction and resistance from staff and major unions, which led to a bitter relationship with the transit agency’s leaders. Richardson said that BART was “probably the least effective agency I’ve worked for” when it comes to oversight.
Richardson’s departure highlights deep divisions within BART on providing enhanced oversight at the agency. State Sen. Steve Glazer is leading calls to tie any new BART funds to a strengthened Inspector General’s office. He has introduced legislation that would grant BART’s Inspector General the same oversight powers afforded to the Caltrans Inspector General.
Janice Li, BART Board President, is focusing on approving a charter for the next Inspector General, which would clarify the auditor’s role at the agency. However, Li was not ready to back Glazer’s latest legislation, citing vague wording in the legislation that created Richardson’s office.
BART needs to rally the Legislature behind a difficult push for a new taxpayer subsidy, even as the state faces its own looming budget deficit. Richardson’s departure underscores the challenges BART faces in addressing its financial woes while maintaining effective oversight.
In conclusion, the departure of BART’s Inspector General amid the agency’s ongoing financial struggles highlights the need for stronger oversight and cooperation among staff, board, and unions. With a dire financial shortfall, BART needs to rally support from the Legislature, and a strengthened Inspector General’s office can help address the agency’s challenges. However, it remains to be seen if BART can overcome the obstacles it faces to achieve these goals.