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Auditors to examine purchasing, employee relocation costs at Port Authority of Allegheny County |

Auditors to examine purchasing, employee relocation costs at Port Authority of Allegheny County

Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Friday that he will conduct an audit of the Port Authority of Allegheny County to see if the transit agency corrected problems uncovered four years ago.

DePasquale’s last audit of the authority in 2014 found procurement issues and excessive employee relocation costs.

The new audit will cover Jan. 1, 2016, through Dec. 31, 2017 — a time when Ellen McLean was CEO of the agency.

The probe will investigate whether the authority fixed the problems found in the last audit and examine its hiring policies for police officers and drivers — a concern raised in discussions with Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s administration, DePasquale said.

“In consultation with the Fitzgerald administration, and just our own internal discussions, it was believed that was something that needed to be looked at,” DePasquale said.

The audit also will evaluate the effectiveness of how the authority manages its service routes — a focus point added by DePasquale, a former rider.

“I added that because I know that’s a critical issue for this region,” he said.

The authority’s new CEO, Katharine Eagan Kelleman , took the helm in January, making it the ideal time for the audit, DePasquale said.

“Anything we find gives her a chance to clean it up,” DePasquale said, adding he met Kelleman in Harrisburg.

The 2014 audit, which covered mid-2007 through 2012, found the authority did not comply with its own procurement requirements or use Federal Transportation Administration recommendations.

It also found the authority paid more than $28,000 in moving expenses to a former employee, including $15,000 for a five-month stay at a Downtown hotel and $4,241 for a rental car that was paid twice.

“It is my understanding that was cleaned up by the previous leadership of the Port Authority,” DePasquale said.

DePasquale said he chose to do the follow-up audit now because of Kelleman starting and also because public transportation is closely tied to economic development.

“Even if the Pittsburgh region doesn’t land Amazon, to get these type of companies, a vibrant port authority is going to be critical,” DePasquale said, referring to Amazon’s search for a second headquarters. Pittsburgh is among Amazon’s 20 HQ2 finalists.

The audit will examine how the system is working for low-income riders, and where routes are being cut, DePasquale said.

The audit will also look at the authority’s contracts, including with Massachusetts-based Scheidt & Bachmann, the company that provides ConnectCard machines. The light-rail system, which was set to go cashless in July 2017 , still has yet to make that switch because of delays by the company.

“We welcome the Auditor General’s audit and look forward to receiving his recommendations to support the continued improvement of our transit system,” Port Authority spokesman Adam Brandolph said.

The audit is scheduled to be released in the fall, but could take longer if staffers decide to expand the scope of the audit, DePasquale said.

Theresa Clift is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-380-5669, or via Twitter @tclift.

Theresa Clift | Tribune-Review
Pennsylvania Auditor General Eugene DePasquale announced he is launching an audit of the Port Authority of Allegheny County during a news conference on Friday, March 2, 2018.
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