The Toronto Transit Commission’s internal auditors are slamming the agency for lax control over consultants, safety practices and staff reimbursements – including weak oversight of a staff award program where receipts for nearly $10,000 in doughnuts and other treats couldn’t be found.
Five audits of TTC departments and divisions uncovered a litany of problems, most of which the transit authority says it has addressed since the investigations were conducted between 2009 and 2011.
“In 2012, the TTC should be beyond excuses. They need to look at results and deliverables,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a former chair of the commission’s audit subcommittee, where the audits were made public Monday.
One of the reports singled out the “zero injury awards” program, which rewards employees for strong safety performances with gift cards and congratulatory presentations that sometimes feature doughnuts, sandwiches or other goodies.
In 2010, $96,532 in gift cards were ordered, but for 19 of the 51 presentations that year the auditors couldn’t find proper lists of signatures to prove that eligible staff received the cards. Nor could the auditors find receipts to back up $9,786 spent on refreshments at the award presentations.
“Some folks may laugh at us for chasing down a box of Timbits,” said Councillor Glenn De Baeremaeker, a member of the subcommittee. “I don’t. I know this is what drives the public crazy.”
Another of the audits unearthed troubles in the construction department, including failures to keep up with proper project status reports, oversee in-house consultants, or keep track of office supplies like printers.
In one case, auditors found the project status reports on a garage subsurface remediation program reflected “little activity,” when in fact $80,000 of artwork, $487,000 of legal services and $482,000 for property provision had been charged to the project.
Controls over labour costs in the construction department were weak too, the audit found, with project managers failing to use a tracking program called “Time Machine” to monitor labour costs.
“It appears that not only is the culture of the TTC stuck in the 1950s, so is their technology,” Mr. Minnan-Wong said.
An audit of the TTC’s rail operations uncovered a safety shortcoming. Streetcar operators are supposed to undergo refresher training and recertification every three years.
Drivers with lapsed certifications aren’t supposed to be allowed behind the wheel. But the auditors found that at one division, Roncesvalles, six streetcar operators in June, 2011, and 32 operators in October, 2010, were driving with expired certificates.
At another, Russell Division, the auditors found 16 operators with expired certificates in May, 2011.