The Washington State Auditor’s office today released an extensive performance audit of Sound Transit’s Link light rail construction program. The performance audit was conducted in compliance with Initiative I-900, approved by Washington voters in 2005.
The audit identified three overarching findings:
- Sound Transit was unable to complete the Link light rail line at the cost and within timeframes communicated to voters in 1996;
- Sound Transit initially lacked procedures for land acquisition, environmental compliance, permitting and construction management, contributing to its inability to meet project costs and timeframes communicated to voters in 1996;
- Sound Transit has extensively improved its construction planning and management processes since 2002.
Areas identified for improvement include but are not limited to environmental compliance, management of change orders and how we track and implement lessons learned. The audit concludes that Sound Transit has made major strides and has developed the processes and procedures that are responsible for the agency’s successful delivery of projects.The performance audit focused on the Link light rail construction project, which is currently nearing 80 percent completion. Areas identified for improvement include environmental compliance, management of change orders and how we track and implement lessons learned. The audit states Sound Transit has made major strides and has developed the processes and procedures that are responsible for the agency’s successful delivery of projects.
The audit makes several recommendations, many of which Sound Transit has already begun implementing; with a few exceptions, the transit agency generally agrees with those recommendations. Overall, the audit identified potential savings of approximately $5 million and cost the State $455,410 to administer. The Link project budget is $2.7 billion.
Sound Transit is one of the most closely reviewed and audited agencies in the state. The performance audit identifies 48 different federal, state and independent audits beginning before voters approved the Sound Move ballot measure in 1996, and notes the agency is marked by a “culture of continuous improvement.” Recently, an independent Expert Review Panel appointed by the State of Washington issued a final letter affirming that Sound Transit used its lessons-learned to build a solid Sound Transit 2 plan (the basis for the transit portion of the Roads & Transit package submitted to voters).
Sound Transit says it is committed to maintaining transparency and serving as an effective stewardship of the taxpayers’ dollars; to that end (as required by law), the agency will be holding a public hearing on the audit next Thursday, October 11, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in the Ruth Fisher Board Room at Union Station (401 S. Jackson, Seattle).
Paul Ellis is lead staff for RAMP; an employee of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber, Ellis led the Pierce County Transportation Advisory Committee (PCTAC), the community’s largest transportation planning effort.