- Associated Press - Monday, June 15, 2015

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) - Hampton Roads Transit’s data reporting process is mired in problems that have led to delays and errors, an internal audit said.

The process lacks direction and accountability, has a cumbersome system of spreadsheets, and lacks training for staff, said the audit conducted by the agency’s internal auditor, Margaret Denoncourt. Her report was released last week, The Virginian-Pilot (https://bit.ly/1TkrLix) reported.

“Eight employees required to populate the spreadsheets reported receiving little to no guidance regarding the information expected in each spreadsheet,” the report said. “As a result, data are inconsistently collected among departments and data are incomplete, inaccurate, and illogical.”

Hampton Roads President and CEO William Harrell said the agency agrees with the audit’s findings. He told a committee of the agency’s governing board last week that many of the audit’s recommendations are expected to be implemented within the next six months.

Brandon Singleton, the agency’s chief financial officer, told the committee that the agency is pursuing new data reporting software that will improve the process.

Hampton Roads Transit must regularly enter a variety of data into a national database, including passenger trips and how much the agency spends on tires and fuels. The federal government uses the data to apportion funding to transit agencies.

About $20 million of the agency’s budget, or about 20 percent, was tied to the data that it reported last fiscal year, the audit said.

Harrell said that the transit agency’s federal funds are not in jeopardy.

Other problems uncovered by the audit included the lack of formal written procedures for data collection and reporting, and time-consuming, unproductive communication between employees.

The audit report also said the agency has asked for reporting extensions on submitting National Transit Data four of the past five fiscal years.

Singleton said those extensions have generally been for 30 days. The agency has not received any warnings from the Federal Transit Administration for late reporting.


Information from: The Virginian-Pilot, https://pilotonline.com

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