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Manufacturer modifying Metro 7K rail cars after electric shock incident

Rail car part deteriorating prematurely, Metro official says

metro logoA component in Metro’s newest rail car series is breaking prematurely, and their manufacturer has designed a modification to fix it, Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel said Thursday.

A mechanic reported he suffered electrical shock while he was inspecting part of the underside of the 7000 series rail car at West Falls Church Rail Yard on Sunday, Stessel confirmed. This was related to the deteriorating rail car part, the ground brush. However, he suffered no serious injury. The mechanic said he did not want medical attention. However, Metro staff took him to a local hospital.

Stessel confirmed a problem is developing with the 7000 series trains, the newest in the Metrorail fleet.

“Yes, there were defective wires, there was a problem within the ground brush assembly itself and that problem is mitigated by the safety bulletin we put out,” Stessel said.

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Spare Part Woes

Broken Promises - Bad Dreams, A Metro Investigation (Third in a series)

FTA concerned with the latest in Metrorail’s budget problems

Metro entranceA problem with spare parts finds The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority once again in trouble with the Federal Transportation Administration.

Metro is now accused of dodging FTA procurement regulations.

According to the proposed FY2018 budget, WMATA charged $23 million in railcars to the operating budget because Metro managers were having difficulty complying with FTA requirements. Those funds apparently should have been charged to the capital budget.

According to the Approval of FY2018-2023 Capital Improvement Program and CFA extension that $23 million was spent on parts “necessary for railcar safety and reliability.”

According to that same report, the money was moved not only because some parts were not procured in compliance with federal regulations but also “a lack of available non-federal capital funding.”

Tom Bulger, a member of the Metro board of directors, said he wasn’t aware of this specific move of money, but he was aware of alterations to the procurement process to ensure that Metro had parts to repair things.

“I’m aware of the fact that we were running out of spare parts at a fast clip since 2016 and they {Metro} needed to get more supplies in order to keep up with maintenance and the procurement process was accelerated,” he said.

When asked why Metro was running out of parts, Bulger assigned blame to the suppliers.

“Supply. Logistics. The suppliers were behind. We weren’t able to obtain the parts on a schedule that would meet Metro’s requirements.”

Those alterations to the procurement process are part of The Parts Bridging Program, a program started by WMATA to “temporarily purchase parts using non-Federal funds and procurement rules until December 2017,” according to the Approval of OneYear Extension of Parts Bridging Program (PMP) and Update on Parts Procurement Program. Last October, the enrollment deadline was extended until December 31 of this year and the initial contract end date was extended until June 30, 2023. According to that report, the program was started after a board resolution imposed “heightened standards on parts procurement.”

However, according to that same report, Metro was also running out of parts. The report states that “In the 2015 Annual Vital Signs Report, the Office of Performance (CPO) noted its findings that the high non availability rates of revenue service vehicles were attributable in part to inventory part shortages throughout the warehouse system. This shortage of inventory parts was having an adverse effect on safety and on time service within the transit system.”

According to that report, “the existing procurement methods used by Metro could not correct this deficiency.”

According to the documents, a goal of the program is to - after the fact - request waivers for contracts that didn’t follow FTA regulations or be eligible for reimbursements from the FTA from any given part in the program.

According to FTA spokesman Steven Taubenkibel, the use of local funds is a local decision.

WMATA has been accused of breaking FTA regulations before.

In 2014, a damning FTA audit revealed WMATA’s misuse of grant money, which included WMATA incurring unallowable expenditures and underreporting $42 million in federal expenditures. According to the report, WMATA also offered a contract without soliciting the three bids necessary to make that contract competitive. According to the 2014 audit, Metro didn’t have the internal controls to properly manage their grant money, although the final report of the audit included documents that acknowledged Metro’s progress on improving its internal controls.

Carol Kissal, the CFO of the Metro at the time and the person to whom some of the problem departments reported too departed.

“It’s all been cleaned up as far as I know,” said Bulger. “It better be.”

“When the changeover came there was a different way for accounting for hours spent and parts and personnel that seems to be working better,” he said about the changes to Metro’s operations after the audit. And we brought in a new CFO from Chicago.”

FTA today still requires Metro to carry out corrective actions for safety and they oversee how WMATA uses federal grant money. According to the FY2017 budget, WMATA’s operating personnel budget decreased by $21.6 million, primarily because WMATA moved expenses for the required safety actions to the Capital Improvement Program. In that same year, that decrease was offset by increases for FTA required safety actions.

Earlier, FTA diverted a large sum of money into safety spending

According to FTA correspondence with WMATA, FTA diverted $20 million of non-safety spending into safety spending, $10 million away from pressure washing and cosmetic maintenance of the stations and $10 million away from open bankcard and automatic fare collection systems. They then put that money into SafeTrack.

FTA management is also apparently unhappy with the local governments and their failure to provide for adequate safety oversight for local transit. According to FTA correspondence with local governments in early 2017, FTA withheld federal grant money from local transit companies, including Metro, until a new safety oversight program could be certified and it is unclear if that has even happened yet.

“The U.S. Department of Transportation advised the Governors and Mayor that their respective jurisdictions may be subject to the withholding of up to five percent of their FY 2017 Urbanized Area formula funds if they did not collectively establish a State Safety Oversight Program (SSOP) for the rail operations of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (Metrorail), certified by FTA, by February 9, 2017,” reads the correspondence. “They have not met that deadline.”

@CKomatsoulis

 

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MoCo makes bid for Amazon

Amazon.com logo1Just two weeks since Amazon asked states and counties to bid for its second headquarters—a project that could mean 50,000 jobs and $5 billion in investment to the winning locality—Montgomery County and competitors all around the country were busy putting their proposals together.

Seattle-based Amazon asked for bids on Sept. 7, and gave just six weeks for initial proposals due Oct. 19. From those, Amazon will select finalists to compete for the prize with fully-specified bids.

According to the Seattle Times, more than 100 cities/counties and states/provinces in the U.S. and Canada are putting together proposals. Amazon spokesperson Drew Herdener said at this early stage in the process, “Every city is on an equal playing field.” He indicated the company will choose finalists from the initial applicants, and will select a winner next year.

Even within the state of Maryland and the D.C. area, Montgomery County faces substantial competition. On Sept. 13, Gov. Larry Hogan threw his support to a bid to bring the Amazon project to Port Covington in Baltimore, a site owned by Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and investment firm Goldman Sachs. Hogan said he would personally lobby Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos on behalf of the Baltimore bid.

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The Fed isn’t the enemy folks

constitution quill penPrivatization of the federal workforce was a goal of Ronald Reagan during his administration. He convened the Grace Commission to look into how best to do just that. Now, more than thirty years later, the number of contract employees compared to career federal employees approaches a five to one ratio.
Clearly, there are some benefits to contracting out some very skill-specific functions, but the value of a properly staffed and experienced federal workforce should not be taken lightly. Nor should a dedicated federal workforce that is sworn to uphold the Constitution and not the profit motive of the company winning a federal contract be something that is taken for granted.
Placing the burden of the federal deficit on the shoulders of the federal workforce is doing exactly that and is certainly not cost effective.

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Montgomery Marty’s Weekly Picks for Sept. 21, 2017

Hawgs back on top – but still have a ways to go

Montgomery MartyThe mighty Hawgs are back on top this week and Captain Kirk Cousins’ late touchdown pass gave this Buckin’ Bronco some hope for the season.
But the ‘Skins still need a better defensive scheme - some of that Packers “Nitro” might be good. We definitely got the personnel for it.
Meanwhile, two tough games are coming up for Hawgs fans. We win one of these two and watch out, NFL.
In high school action this week the High n’ Mighty thinks something mighty strange is going on.
Only three games were competitive - and only one was settled by one point. Blow outs ruled last week with Quince Orchard beating Clarksburg like a red-headed stepchild. The clock was spinning more than running.
A couple of teams have byes this week, so it’s going to be a light week - which might be good. Maybe a week of rest will help out.
For the rest of the teams out there, quit playing “Madden” and start playing some real football. At least learn how to stop the off-tackle run.
There’s a few good games this week so keep your fingers crossed:

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Maybe it really is all a flashback - POTUS is cool

CNGXcmfUcAEHvmpI woke up in one of “those” moods.
What kind of mood do you ask? Well, I guess somewhere between “Come on people now, smile on your brothers, everybody get together try to love one another right now,” written by Chet Powers and famously recorded by the Youngbloods and H.L. Mencken’s feelings about religion: “In America it is used as a club and a cloak by both politicians and moralists, all of them lusting for power and most of them palpable frauds.”

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Help Wanted

Software Eng: ensure software quality, enhance user exp. for customers & safeguard private medical info. for patients using comp's e-prescription manag't sys; design & program next generation of eHealthcare tech to provide interconnectivity b/t patients, physicians, hospitals & healthcare entities; design & develop reusable, scalable, flexible & high-performing software applics using Java/J2EE, Spring, Hibernate, JMS, web serv & applic server; develop enhancements to existing software applics & design & develop new product lines; implement process improvements & ensure software quality. Min. req'ts: BS in Comp. Sci, Info Tech or rel. field or for. equiv. plus 6 mths rel. exp. req'd. Exp. in Java req'd. Send resume & cvr ltr to: HR, DrFirst.com, Inc, 9420 Key West Ave., Ste. 101, Rockville, MD 20850. No calls or emails. EOE.

 

Sr. Database Admin: support existing Oracle-based applics; provide tech support & maintenance for Oracle DBA & serv for comp's enterprise platform; monitor DBA events & optimize sys performance; automate reactive procedures & promote rapid response to known issues; maintain DBA configurations & perform backup & disaster recovery procedures. Min. req'ts: MS in Comp Sci, Comp  Info Sys, Comp Applics, Elec Eng'g or rel. field or for. equiv. plus 1 yr. rel. exp. or BS in Comp Sci, Comp Info Sys, Comp Applics, Elec Eng'g or rel. field or for. equiv. plus 5 yrs. rel. exp. Send resume & cvr ltr to: HR, DrFirst.com, Inc, 9420 Key West Ave., Ste. 101, Rockville, MD 20850. No calls or
emails. EOE.

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