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Semiannual Report #50

April 1, 2014 - September 30, 2014

"Throughout this semiannual period, our audit work addressed issues intended to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of Amtrak’s programs and operations. We issued our first ever report on top management and performance challenges facing the company. The challenges we identified are rooted in long‐standing and complex issues that will take continuous attention over several years to effectively address. We also reported on opportunities for the company to improve its effectiveness and efficiency in a number of areas, including managing capital projects, implementing the Americans with Disabilities program, and conducting procurement activities."

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Top Management and Performance Challenges

This is our first report assessing the top management and performance challenges facing Amtrak (the company). Many other inspectors general are legislatively required to produce similar reports focusing on high-risk/impact activities and performance issues that affect programs, operations, and achievement of strategic goals. Those reports have shown that periodically identifying and reporting the challenges to management, other decision-makers, and Congress can help improve organizational performance. Although we are not legislatively required to report on management challenges, we have prepared this report to provide similar benefits.

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Report Issued: Addressing Management Weaknesses is Key to Enhancing the Americans with Disabilities Program

"The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) became law in 1990, requiring that intercity rail stations be made accessible to persons with disabilities by July 26, 2010. In September 2011, we reported that only 48 of the 482 stations Amtrak serves (10 percent) were ADA- compliant. During FY 2012 and FY 2013, Amtrak spent about $100 million of ADA program funds.

Over the last two years, the ADA program made limited progress achieving its goals, largely because of the lack of an effective program management structure and the absence of a written strategic plan establishing a vision, goals, and objectives, including estimates of costs and a timeframe for program completion. These weaknesses were similar to the ones we identified previously, which resulted from the lack of program accountability and decision-making authority."
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Employee Guilty of Embezzlement and Grand Theft

Our investigation disclosed that an Assistant Conductor failed to remit cash and credit card payment for 414 tickets valued at $24,908. The employee resigned when presented with notice of a formal administrative hearing. In October of 2012, an arrest warrant was issued for the employee on charges of embezzlement and grand theft. In March of 2014, the former employee was arrested, convicted, and sentenced to 6 months incarceration, followed by five years of formal probation. The former employee was ordered to pay restitution to Amtrak.

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