Despite the challenges of investigating fraud at the MTA during a pandemic, the MTA’s Office of the Inspector General reports it was able to find $22 million in savings last year.

The MTA’s Inspector General, Carolyn Pokorny, noted that her office conducted more investigations in 2020 than the year before and received 1,227 tips, nearly double that of her predecessor in his final year in office in 2018. The majority, 66 percent, were about problems at New York City Transit.

“Each day I have encouraged my team to discover ways to help make the MTA as strong, safe, and fiscally sound as can be on behalf of our riders, taxpayers, and workers,” Pokorny wrote in her office’s annual report. “Our contributions include assuring that acts of waste, fraud, and abuse are rooted out, best practices are followed, and those who manage our public transportation system are held to the highest standards.”

Last year, her office recovered $2 million dollars through various lawsuits against employees and contractors who committed fraud. It also took on the additional duty of conducting oversight for 22 ongoing Sandy recovery projects at the MTA. This alone saved the agency $20 million dollars, according to Pokorny's annual report.

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“We thank the MTA Inspector General for her office’s diligent work and continue to cooperate with its efforts,” MTA spokesperson Aaron Donovan wrote in a statement. “In almost every case where the Inspector General’s office has issued findings, we have agreed with them and implemented remedies that further reduce costs.” 

Donovan added that the MTA has been doing its own reorganization this year, finding $800 million in savings.

One of the most high profile lawsuits the Inspector General’s office brought last year was against four senior Long Island Railroad managers, including one who made $461,000 in 2018, more than any other person at the MTA, including the Chairman.

Still, Pokorny is concerned that the MTA has lost momentum on a plan to install modern, biometric timekeeping technology.

“The absence of a proper system to verify time and attendance could create opportunities for employees, particularly those who work in remote locations, to claim overtime that was not worked or even assigned to them without being detected,” she noted in her report. 

Her office made headlines in 2020 as well for uncovering a so-called “man cave” in Grand Central Terminal. She noted three employees were suspended over the incident without pay, saving the agency more than $75,000. The workers have appealed the decision. 

“You have my word, we have no plans to stop,” Pokorny wrote in a statement.