MTA Criticized for Lack of Transparency


Commissioners at the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) questioned increasing costs and whether the agency has been transparent. Of particular concern are additional costs of about $1 billion and cost overruns for a project that resulted in 19 instead of 32 subway stations getting renovated. One commissioner said, “It is indefensible that we did not receive this information prior to it being reported in the press." The governing body discovered the information from a Wall Street Journal article.

Chairman Joe Lhota, who was appointed last summer, acknowledged that the agency has been working on being more transparent:

“Not a second in a day goes by when I don’t think about transparency at this agency and what we need to do to provide information to all of you."

NY Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson requested more transparency about spending and service improvement measurements and asked for monthly briefings and an "evaluation of efficacy."

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  • How would you define transparency, and how does it relate to accountability?
  • After reading more about the situation, how would you assess the agency's actions? Do you agree with the commissioners' assessment? If you believe a lack of transparency exists, do you think it's intentional? Does it matter if it is?
  • Why do organizations lack transparency? What do they potentially gain and lose?
  • What do you think an "evaluation of efficacy" means?