PCAC Testimony – September 25, 2019 – The 2020-2024 Capital Plan’s Do-ability


Statement by Lisa Daglian, PCAC Executive Director
The 2020-2024 Capital Plan’s Do-ability
At the MTA Board Meeting
MTA Headquarters, 2 Broadway, New York, NY 10004
September 25, 2019

Good morning, my name is Lisa Daglian and I am the Executive Director of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

We’re excited about the FY20-24 Capital Plan’s potential to transform the rider experience and improve the system, including long awaited accessibility projects. The infusion of congestion pricing funds is a true game changer. It shows that when we all work together there is hope! At the same time, we have concerns about transparency, capacity and do-ability needed to achieve this ambitious plan.

The capital plan was released less than a week before the vote. How are Board members and the public supposed to understand a more than 50-billion-dollar plan in a matter of days? Making the information available in an open data format would allow us to do a deep dive. Also missing is the basic information that defines the work: year by year; element by element; and by expected expenditures. When can we see that? A dashboard that every day people can read showing the original cost, timeline and capital plan for projects is also critical. And how does all this fit in with the Forensic Audit and Transformation Plan? This is a big budget to pass if the rules are all going to change.

For the capital plan to succeed, the MTA must have the right organizational structure. From what we understand, Capital Construction will oversee the bulk of the work using Design-Build, greatly expanding its portfolio. At the same time, the July Financial Plan shows that by the end of 2019, it will have 18 positions below the Adopted Budget, with staffing levels projected to remain static through 2023. Who will do the work and manage the projects? What’s the plan for getting Project Managers on board quickly? Who will provide oversight to the many contractors that will need to be brought in?

Having enough contractors willing to work with the MTA is also a major issue. The Debarment Rules as written will cause well-respected and experienced firms to look elsewhere for work. The MTA should want more bidders, not less, to create healthy competition and realize economic benefits. As you contemplate changes to the rules, we urge you to balance their significant concerns with the need for accountability and responsibility.

We hope you’ll address our concerns quickly – riders need and deserve the system this Capital Plan promises. Thank you.

Read the full testimony: 09.25.2019 Capital Plan Do-ability