RTA prepares for scheduled 15-year audit

The Regional Transportation Authority in Pima County is nearing the end of its 15th year in operation and, as such, will undergo its second scheduled financial performance audit.

The audit is called for in the state statutes that authorized the authority to create both a plan and tax proposal that voters approved in 2006. It will commence after the current fiscal year ends on June 30, 2021, and cover fiscal years 2017 through 2021. Once completed, the audit could make recommendations for projects and implementation for fiscal years 2022 through 2026.

The RTA performance audit not only looks at the RTA’s financial records, but at how transportation has changed in the region over time, and whether the improvements built have contributed positively to those changes. Congestion, air quality, safety, transit ridership, travel time and construction efficiency will be measured and compared to historical records, national and regional trends.

It is always a good practice to look at what the audit team was interested in during the last audit, as well as the team’s recommendations in 2017, said Jim DeGrood, RTA Deputy Director.

“The audit team created a number of spreadsheets and asked a number of questions during the last audit effort, and we are preparing materials with added data so that the audit team can hit the ground running,” DeGrood said.

The first audit was required at the halfway point of the plan, or 10 years into implementation. In that audit, the state Auditor General wrote:

“At the RTA plan’s halfway mark, the RTA plan partners are generally delivering the projects as envisioned within budget and on schedule, employing typical project management and construction practices, and spending funds in accordance with applicable Arizona Revised Statutes and RTA plan provisions.”

The 10-year audit was conducted for the state by Sjoberg Evashenk Consulting, a California-based firm.

“Our audit found that, with half of the 20-year program elapsed, many good practices were in place and a solid foundation has been built to assist the RTA plan partners in completing projects as promised to the voters. The RTA plan partners were very focused and dedicated to tracking and monitoring actual progress against the details of the RTA plan, and regularly reported on progress in terms of cost, schedule and scope. In fact, at the half-way point of the RTA plan, more than 77 percent of subprojects have been completed as of June 30, 2016, and were generally on budget and on schedule. Moreover, much progress has been made since the start of the RTA plan projects in fiscal year 2007, including roadways added or widened, intersections improved, sidewalks and pedestrian crossings built, transit operations expanded, and a modern streetcar put in service.”