Transit bosses “misused” MTA-issued credit cards thanks to lackadaisical oversight that let countless illicit purchases go undetected, according to an audit released Tuesday by MTA Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny.
Pokorny’s review of 68 purchases made over 10 weeks in 2020 on so-called procurement cards, or “P-cards,” found 16 “problematic” expenses — a rate of 24 percent.
MTA HQ “did not provide adequate oversight over P-Card purchases, not because of COVID-related demands but as a normal practice,” the report said.
“There is a significant likelihood that other impermissible purchases went undetected.”
Issues identified by auditors included two purchases with incorrectly charged sales tax, six without receipts, two improperly spent on recurring maintenance and three items that were split up to evade spending limits.
The illicit purchases occurred in plain sight thanks to outdated record-keeping and minimal oversight at both New York City Transit and MTA headquarters, which managed the credit cards, the IG said.
Confronted by IG auditors, the MTA HQ bureaucrat responsible for the cards admitted she was nine months behind on reviewing purchases, and said she did not know how to provide a list of MTA cardholders.
The cardholders, meanwhile, typically kept paper records of their purchases, the report said. Guidelines for reviewing and approving purchases varied by department.
“In our digital age, it makes no sense for the MTA to rely on paper records to manage billing for hundreds of credit cards,” Pokorny said in a statement. “As the average credit card holder already knows, today’s technology offers far more comprehensive, easy-to-use online methods with sound controls against waste, fraud, or abuse.”
The bus and subway expenses reviewed for the audit totaled $319,064 and occurred between March 1 and May 15, 2020, the report said. New York City Transit spent $1.91 million total using procurement cards over that same period.
Transit officials revoked over 90 credit cards in light of the IG’s investigations, the MTA said. The authority plans to shift to an electronic approval system in 2022.
“We take expenditure of taxpayers’ money seriously, and thank the Inspector General for this important work,” MTA spokesman Aaron Donovan said in a statement. “Further changes to strengthen oversight are ahead as well.”
Metro | New York Post