According to the agency’s inspector general, the MTA’s outdated overtime system continues to act as an OT for cash-grab scams because the agency’s $31 million effort to mitigate potential payroll theft is “at risk.”
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Multi-million efforts to curb overtime abuse are failing as executives slow the integration of modern timekeeping into the authority’s payroll systems, IG’s latest quarterly review of the program’s progress said.
Inspector General Carolyn Pokorny’s office said “changes in organizational priorities” have left several years of effort in limbo – even as MTA workers are trying to steal time under the decades-old OT paper-dependent “honor system”. accuse for.
The challenge is “overcoming”, the IG said in the report, if the new leadership of the MTA under the government, Kathy Hochul, cares to fix it: “If management plans to abandon this effort in the project, its There should be transparent about the decision,” the report said.
Pokorny’s office has been eyeing the MTA’s overtime reforms since 2019, when The Post uncovered allegations of overtime abuse on LIRR workers after a series of exposés that drew huge pay.
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Pokorny has said that many supervisors of MTAs “rely solely on the integrity of employees” in taking out OTs—creating an “honor system” with opportunities for fraud, Pokorny has said.
That uncontrolled collection of OT wages has also resulted in several lawsuits—including the MTA’s 2018 “overtime king” Thomas Caputo, a LIRR employee who said the Fed conspired with coworkers to take jobs on mega-projects where They could get away with sleeping or playing. Moving away from the LIRR management perspective.
The MTA, under past president Pat Foy, hired Morrison & Foster LLP in 2019 to develop a plan to prevent and catch fraud in the future. The firm urged executives to scrap the paper-based OT accounting for “biometric” watches, which require workers to swipe in and out of work, and print their fingerprints when they do. do the scan.
According to the IG, transit leaders have waived the fingerprint requirement since the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, Cronos’ involvement declined in the third quarter of 2021 compared to earlier in the year – something executives only investigated after being brought to their attention by the IG’s office, the report said.
Unless Cronos and Payroll are fully integrated and digitalized, management will lack critical tools to verify OT wages and catch fraudsters, IG said.
“Integration is a critical component of the MTA’s overtime reforms, which my office has demonstrated is critically needed through highlighting bad actors and emphasizing the need to reduce wasteful, irreversible overtime in the MTA,” Pokorny said.
The report also blamed delays in “turnover in Project Leeds,” pointing to the departure of Mario Peloquin, chief operating officer and head of the overtime improvement task force, in March.
In July former government Andrew Cuomo replaced Foy with MTA construction czar Geno Lieber. Hochul has said that she plans to nominate Lieber for a full term. Pokorny is also a Cuomo appointee.
The MTA noted that OT spending has declined since 2018.
“MTA continues to address the best way to achieve full integration of the Cronos payroll system,” spokesman Mike Cortez said in a statement. “Measures already implemented have resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in annual overtime expense declines and we are committed to additional material reductions in overtime costs.”