Metro’s Office of Inspector General knew in 2015 that structure inspectors had been falsifying reports, according to an OIG report, but that was not made public until recently when a newspaper acquired the report through a written request.
Months after Metro General Manager Paul Wiedefeld fired nearly half of the track inspection department for falsifying inspection reports, an old Office of Inspector General report was found to indicate the interim general manager knew structure inspectors falsified reports, too – as early as two years ago.
In a recently released 2015 Metro OIG report, then-Inspector General Helen Lew told interim General Manager Jack Requa and then-Deputy General Manager Rob Troup an investigation revealed inspectors violated Metro protocol when they falsified reports and recycled old photos of problem areas over several years. The investigation also revealed that the maintenance department didn’t repair some of the more serious concerns.
Lew said investigators found that some structures reports by different inspectors had conflicting information; for others, repeated comments on the structures word-for-word from the previous report and either didn’t include photos when required or re-used photos up to three years old. For one structure, OIG found the inspector did not have access to a bucket truck so he visually inspected the structure using binoculars. He re-used old measurements from a previous report and said he was too far away to take a picture of the structure for the report.
The information from the investigation only became public when the Washington Post shared its copy of the report after receiving it through a Public Access to Records Policy request (Metro’s policy for handling documents that are in Metro custody).
Lew sent the report prior to Metro selecting Wiedefeld as the general manager. Wiedefeld has served as general manager since November 2015.
Ly confirmed on Aug. 11 that Wiedefeld has been aware of the OIG findings.
Since his arrival, Wiedefeld created Quality Assurance, Internal Compliance and Oversight.
“When Metro’s General Manager created Metro’s Quality Assurance, Internal Compliance, and Oversight (QICO) one of the first areas he asked to be reviewed was structures,” Ly said.
Metro posted the QICO structure inspections report July 31.
“QICO found no evidence of safety concerns,” Ly said.
Metro Board member Tom Bulger, who was on the board at the time the report is dated, said he has not received a copy of the report. When asked about a culture of safety, he said it needs to change.
“It’s got to get a lot better, if these revelations are correct,” Bulger said Wednesday.
“Undocumented structures – that doesn’t cut it for me,” he added.
Metro’s Board of Directors is on recess and its next full board meeting is scheduled for September.