Sarbanes, National Capital Region Congressional Delegation Reintroduce the Metro Accountability and Investment Act

Bill Would Strengthen Federal Funding Commitments for the Capital Region’s Public Transit System and Improve WMATA Safety and Accountability with Critical Reforms
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 2, 2021
CONTACT: Daniel Jacobs
(202) 225-4016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman John Sarbanes (D-Md.) today joined the National Capital Region Congressional Delegation in reintroducing the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, a bill to shore up federal funding for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and raise the transit agency’s safety and accountability standards.

“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, WMATA desperately needed robust investment and stronger incentives to improve safety, oversight and accountability throughout the Capital Region’s transportation system,” said Congressman Sarbanes. “This renewed federal effort will ensure that WMATA has adequate resources to improve service, safety and reliability for riders across the region – including large segments of our federal workforce. We urge our colleagues to join us in moving swiftly to pass and enact this critical piece of legislation.”

The Metro Accountability and Investment Act would reauthorize funding from the Passenger Rail Investment Improvement Act (PRIIA) for ten years and provide additional federal funding for WMATA if the transit agency adopts critical safety and oversight reforms, including strengthening the Office of the Inspector General (OIG). The legislation also protects important Code of Ethics reforms adopted in April 2019 for the WMATA Board of Directors.

Under the Metro Accountability and Investment Act, WMATA would receive the following annual federal funding allocations:

  • Fiscal Year 2022: $150,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2023: $155,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2024: $160,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2025: $165,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2026: $170,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2027: $175,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2028: $180,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2029: $185,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2030: $190,000,000
     
  • Fiscal Year 2031: $200,000,000

 

The funding is contingent on the WMATA Board adopting and keeping certain resolutions in effect for the entire funding period, including resolutions that would:

  • Establish independent budget authority for the OIG;
     
  • Establish independent procurement authority for the OIG;
     
  • Establish independent hiring authority for the OIG;
     
  • Ensure that the OIG can obtain independent legal advice from a counsel reporting directly to the OIG;
     
  • Require the OIG to submit recommendations for corrective action to the GM and the Metro Board of Directors;
     
  • Require the OIG to publish recommendations to its website, with allowances for the removal of personally identifiable information or information that could pose a security risk to Metro systems;
     
  • Require the Metro Board of Directors to provide written notice to relevant Congressional Committees at least 30 days in advance of the removal of an Inspector General, along with an explanation of reasons for removal and supporting documentation;
     
  • Prohibit the Board of Directors from removing the Inspector General without a 30 day written notification documenting permanent incapacity, neglect of duty, malfeasance, a conviction of a felony or conduct involving moral turpitude, knowing violation of a law or regulation, gross mismanagement, a gross waste of funds, an abuse of authority or inefficiency; and
     
  • Require the Board to keep its new Code of Ethics for Members of the Metro Board, or consult with the OIG on any modifications to the Code of Ethics.
     

“This bill once again demonstrates our Congressional delegation’s leadership supporting critically needed funding to maintain a safe and reliable transportation system, and it will be critical to the region’s recovery for years to come,” said Metro General Manager/CEO Paul J. Wiedefeld. “We welcome provisions that will increase transparency and ensure taxpayer funds are well-spent to continue to earn the public’s confidence.  We thank the authors of this bill for understanding the importance of Metro to the entire region.”

“The Metro system is one of the nation’s great public assets that millions of people rely on every year – from federal workers to visitors from around the world,” said WMATA Board of Directors Chair Paul C. Smedberg. “We’re deeply thankful for the work of our region’s Congressional delegation to establish a long-term source of funding so we can continue to serve the public and bolster the independent oversight that is critical to maintaining trust with our customers.”

See here for text of the Metro Accountability and Investment Act.

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