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Getting to Disney on Taxpayer Dollars? L.A. Audit Says Transit Funding Should be Re-Examined

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Photo by Jay Banzia via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr

Photo by Jay Banzia via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
The latest audit from City Controller Wendy Greuel examine $203 million worth of contracts for services, which are supposed to happen when outside entities can provide a "necessary service that City employees can’t provide and if it is more cost-effective to do so," according to the Controller's office. "We must ensure that every contract that the City enters into guarantees that taxpayers are getting their money’s worth,” Greuel said in a letter. The audit looked into contracts for graffiti abatement, police risk management, landscaping and other services.

One contracted service, LADOT's $3 million charter bus program, "provides free or subsidized charter bus transportation services to community groups for recreational, employment/training and educational purposes," according to the audit, which said past locations have included Disneyland, beaches, Cabazon Outlet Mall, Raging Waters, Hollywood Park. Groups such as Activities for Retarded Children (ARC), disabled groups and others would take advantage of the program.

Greuel says,

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now may be an appropriate time to re-examine free or subsidized chartered bus trips to entertainment and recreational destinations, such as Disneyland, given the City’s current fiscal crisis. Moreover, the City should ensure that the use of $3 million in Prop A funds for this program does not result in underfunding for other critical public transportation projects or programs, which could result in the inability to sustain and improve the quality and safety of and/or access to public transit services. For example, LADOT has identified a projected $259 million shortfall in Prop A funds over the next 10 years, including a $23 million shortfall in FY 2010-2011, which could significantly impact DASH routes.

LADOT is currently re-examining their transportation programs internally. The department, however, does not monitor charter bus contractor performance regularly, Greuel said, giving this zinger:

LADOT could do a better job of actively obtaining and routinely monitoring customer feedback. Although the Department completes the required Contractor Performance Evaluation Form towards the end of the contract term to assess contractor performance, it is not regularly monitored throughout the contract term. LADOT management indicated they assess performance based on whether customers actively complain. If there are no customer complaints, service quality is presumed to be adequate.

Greuel noted that "33% of the contracts that were audited, no review was done to determine whether outsourcing was the most cost effective and efficient option."