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Legislature Approves Audit of VTA

For immediate release:

SACRAMENTO - Today the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved Assemblymember Marc Berman’s (D-Menlo Park) request to audit the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), with a focus on the areas of governance structure, project planning and management, financial viability, and fiscal oversight.

“My hope is that this audit will give VTA the objective and professional feedback and direction it needs to undertake substantive governance reform so that the board can provide the high-quality oversight of the agency that riders, VTA staff, and Santa Clara County taxpayers deserve,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman. “I would like to thank the Joint Legislative Audit Committee for their unanimous, bipartisan support for this audit. Should the audit identify structural deficiencies and recommend reforms, I look forward to working with VTA to have the difficult but important conversations necessary so that VTA itself can propose state legislation to address the audit’s recommendations.”

“Over the last 20 years, three Civil Grand Jury Reports, multiple consultants hired by VTA, and a 2008 audit by the State Auditor have identified the need for change to VTA’s governance structure in order for the Board to be best equipped to provide high-quality oversight of the agency. The State Auditor is uniquely equipped to look beyond individual interests and provide a cohesive, apolitical set of recommendations for VTA to use to have the important conversation of governance reform. I want to thank all of the board members both past and present, transit riders, and advocates who met with me over the last two years who recognize the need for governance reform in order to better serve the county’s residents. In particular I would like to thank immediate past VTA Board Chair and former San Jose Vice Mayor Chappie Jones for his partnership in our shared endeavor to create a stable, experienced, and regionally focused board of directors,” said Assemblymember Marc Berman.

The approved audit conducted by the California State Auditor will provide independently developed and verified information related to the VTA’s governance structure, project planning and management, financial viability, and fiscal oversight. The audit’s scope includes, among other things, an evaluation of whether the VTA board member selection and tenure practices are effective and whether they align with state law and best practices, and whether VTA could increase transparency related to the selection of its board members. The audit will also consider whether state law governing the board’s structure needs to be changed.

The audit will assess whether VTA’s board and management appropriately carry out their governance-related roles and responsibilities, including their oversight of agency funds. The auditor will compare VTA’s results in multiple performance metrics, including operating costs per trip and number of passenger trips per revenue hour, to those of other similarly situated local transit agencies. The auditor’s assessment of VTA’s project planning and oversight will include an analysis of the extent to which VTA provided adequate planning for a selection of large projects and the accuracy of the VTA’s estimates for project costs and timelines.