Reinvent Albany thanks the MTA Inspector General for issuing a quarterly report assessing how well the MTA has implemented reforms recommended by the Morrison & Foerster Report from August 2019 on Overtime Policies and Procedures and the MTA IG’s own 2019 audit on overtime. Ongoing oversight and monitoring of implementation is crucial to effectuating actual change in government.
Overtime reform efforts to date by the MTA, however, have only focused on operating agencies rather than MTA Headquarters staff, which includes the MTA’s Police Department. Overtime costs for MTA HQ staff totaled $24M in 2019. More so, given the expansion of the MTA’s police force, which is to be housed within MTA HQ, it is crucial that the MTA collect and publish overtime and employee availability data for all MTA employees, including its police. Low employee availability results in higher overtime. When employees are not available for their shifts, at least some of their work must be done by other employees on overtime.
Prior to COVID-19, the MTA intended to increase the MTA police force by 500 more police officers by the end of 2023. The MTA said this will cost the MTA at least $249M over this period, not including unplanned overtime. While the hiring has been “paused”, 168 officers have been hired in addition to the existing MTA police force, which numbered about 780 in 2019 before the planned expansion. Ensuring that oversight costs are kept under control for all MTA employees — including MTA police officers — is crucial as the agency faces a $10B+ deficit through 2021 without federal emergency aid.