December 15, 2021
Good morning. I am Rachael Fauss, Senior Research Analyst for Reinvent Albany. We advocate for more transparent and accountable New York government, including for authorities like the MTA.
With the MTA taking steps to implement the Open Data Law, including recently posting a job position for the new open data coordinator, it is important that the agency look broadly at how it can be more transparent and proactively release information to the public. As part of its ongoing commitment to transparency, the MTA should be striving to publish far more of its public records online instead of requiring the release of information via the cumbersome – and expensive – Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) process.
To that end, we ask that the MTA publish open data concerning the various units of its workforce. This should include:
- Vaccination rates for all agencies and their component units, including the MTA Police Department. Thanks to a FOIL request and article from Kevin Duggan of AMNY, the public now knows that the MTA PD, a subset of MTA HQ, has a vaccination rate of 60% compared to other MTA HQ workers, who have a 87% vaccination rate. Previously, only aggregate data for all MTA HQ workers was made publicly available. Transparency during COVID is particularly important to building public trust, and the MTA should release detailed vaccination rate information for workers who directly interact with the public.
- Workforce availability data and overtime rates for all agency agencies and their component units, including the MTA PD. Similarly, thanks to the MTA Inspector General’s recent report on MTA PD overtime, we have more data about the MTA PD’s overtime rates. In 2019, the MTA commissioned a study by Morrison & Foerster about overtime at the MTA’s operating agencies. However, this study did not examine the MTA PD’s overtime rates, despite the report finding that the MTA PD’s “overtime expenditures for officers account for most of MTA HQ’s overtime expenses.” However, neither the IG’s review nor the Morrison & Foerster report looked at some of the drivers of overtime expenses related to workforce availability and agencies and divisions within them, such as absenteeism, sick leave, and injury claims. This information should be released as open data.
We ask that the MTA publish this information as part of your open data efforts to boost transparency regarding your workforce, and in particular, for the MTA PD. Thank you for your consideration.