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State Auditor's report largely mirrors LAO report, HSRA says

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  • 4/29 SJ Business Journal
    Published Thursday, April 29, 2010, by the San Jose Business Journal California auditor criticizes High-Speed Rail Authority By David Goll In a report released
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 29, 2010
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      Published Thursday, April 29, 2010, by the San Jose Business Journal

      California auditor criticizes High-Speed Rail Authority

      By David Goll

      In a report released Thursday, the California State Auditor's office claims efforts to build a high-speed rail system could be delayed because of what it called inadequate planning, lax contract management and a lack of oversight.

      However, California High-Speed Rail Authority officials say they are already addressing many of the criticisms from the State Auditor.

      The report <http://tinyurl.com/hsr-audit> said while the rail authority estimated last year it needs up to $19 billion in federal funds to build the 800-mile, $45 billion system that would connect Southern California to the Bay Area and Sacramento, it has nowhere near that much money committed to the project.

      "The Authority has no federal commitments beyond $2.25 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and other potential federal programs are small," the report said.

      The report also said rail authority staff paid at least $4 million in invoices from regional contractors received since December 2008 without having documented notification that management had reviewed or approved the payments.

      Rod Diridon Sr., the former Santa Clara County supervisor and public transportation advocate who serves on the rail authority's board of directors, has said for the state to secure the $2.25 billion in federal stimulus funding, it's required to start construction work on the project by September 2012.

      Diridon could not be reached immediately for comment about the report.

      However, Carrie Pourvahidi, interim executive director of the rail authority, released the following statement on the report Thursday: "We welcome additional oversight of California's high-speed train project and thank the Auditor's office for its suggestions because the California High-Speed Rail Authority believes strongly that good oversight will ultimately make for a better high-speed train project –- creating jobs, protecting our environment and providing Californians with a safe and easy new way to travel," she said.

      "We've already moved aggressively to address many of the issues and suggestions, since the Auditor's findings are largely similar to those outlined by the Legislative Analyst's Office in January, including refining our business plan to respond to questions about funding, risk management and ways to attract private investment.

      "In many cases, the Auditor noted that -– while operating with a state staff of fewer than a dozen people –- the Authority has already taken steps to improve its operations and to be sure that taxpayer dollars are protected."

      The State Auditor also said the rail authority already has plans to spend $12 billion in federal and state funding by 2013, which it said was "2.5 times what is now available."

      California voters approved a nearly $10 billion bond measure in November 2008 to build the high-speed rail project.

      David Goll can be reached at 408-299-1853 or dgoll@...

      [BATN: See also:

      CA HSR Blog: State Auditor Misses Point on HSR

      California State Auditor's April 2010 Report 2009-106 on HSR

      Scathing State Auditor's report slams HSRA on "weak oversight"

      State auditor's report faults HSRA oversight, risk management

      CA LAO questions HSRA funding request to add 27 staff positions

      State LAO: HSR business plan's risk assessment is incomplete
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/43754 ]
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