Auditor says OTA inflated passenger counts

At a press conference Wednesday morning, Pam Ward, the Executive Director for the Ottumwa Transit Authority and 10-15 Transit responded to the Iowa State Auditor TMs office regarding a re-audit of the agency after complaints were filed with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

In total, eight findings were communicated to the department. The findings range from complaints dealing with over-stated passenger counts to discrepancies with timesheets.

The most serious findings regard over-stated passenger counts. The report suggests that Ward was the one who ordered the numbers to be inflated. According to the report the Ottumwa Transit Authority quote,

|did not use a true statistical analysis. For example, daily counts were randomly adjusted by exactly 50 or 100 passengers, which would not result from a statistically valid analysis. Regardless, as previously noted, IDOT Transit personnel confirmed transit authorities may use either actual passenger counts or statistical analysis, but not a combination of both methods,

Ward denied telling OTA drivers to boost their numbers.

In simple terms, the numbers the department reported to the state and federal government were not accurate, which in-turn could affect the funding the Ottumwa Transit Authority will receive in the coming years. That means that service to customers could be affected in the future.

You know, I am not in a position today to respond to exactly to what changes are going to be made. I will say that there is likely to be an impact felt by customers and the staff. But I don TMt know exactly what those will be yet, said Ward.

The City of Ottumwa issued a response to the findings by the state auditor. Regarding the over-stated passenger counts the city says quote, OTA (the Ottumwa Transit Authority) and the city are in the process of compiling documentation to support its passenger counts. The statement goes onto say that, Clearly the increase in passenger bus passes over this period of time does support the numbers that have been set by OTA.

When Ward said she brought this issue up prior with the board and the state, this was her response|

We felt we did our duty in reporting the concern both to the board and to the state. And when we received, as I said, no comment, suggestions, directions or objections, we moved forward, said Ward.

When returning to the station this afternoon, a bus driver with OTA wanted to speak with us. The driver told KTVO that in the past, his timesheet had been adjusted.

Adjusting an employee TMs timesheet is against the law, and could result in severe punishment if one is convicted.

In the report, employees that were interviewed said that this did indeed happen, and the employee KTVO spoke to said he was one of those involved. The driver said he did in-fact file a grievance with his union.

During the press conference when asked about this matter, Ward said that no grievances had ever been filed when dealing with this issue.

KTVO called the union in Burlington and spoke with a representative. The representative told KTVO that the union, along with the employee, would need time to find those documents and then provide them to the station.

At the press conference Wednesday afternoon, Ward denied ever adjusting an employee TMs timesheet.

The complete audit from the state can be viewed here .