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New Report: MTA Has Achieved Reduction of $244 Million in Overtime Costs Since 2018

MTA
Updated March 12, 2021 9:30 p.m.

 

MTA Expected to Reduce Overtime by Additional One Billion Dollars By 2024 Through Aggressive Oversight

 

MTA Achieved Multiple Year-Over-Year-Reductions For First Time In A Decade 

 

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) today released a new report detailing dramatic reductions in overtime including a total reduction by $244 million since 2018. The reductions came thanks in part to the Authority's aggressive and comprehensive ongoing efforts to improve overtime management and through the implementation of a series of recommendations that came out of a report issued by the law firm Morrison & Foerster in 2019.  

The enactment of those recommendations is expected to yield roughly a billion dollar reduction between 2020 and 2024, with total overtime spending already having fallen by 18% between 2018 and 2020. That figure represents a reduction of $122 million from 2018 to 2019, and an additional $122 million from 2019 to 2020. 

Additional work remains to fully implement the remaining recommendations from the Morrison & Foerster report, but today’s news demonstrates considerable progress. Moving forward, the MTA will work toward automating existing control measures, migrating agencies to a cloud-based version of the timekeeping system, and other measures that identify potential efficiencies. 

 "The MTA remains laser-focused on advancing a range of initiatives aimed at driving down controllable overtime and addressing potential abuses as quickly and efficiently as possible and this work will continue in earnest,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye. “The overtime system serves an important role in keeping the system moving, but it is incumbent upon MTA leadership to guard against abuse.” 

Actual overtime costs in 2020 exceeded budget by 6%, a sharp improvement from unfavorable variances in the 2019 and 2018 budgets where costs exceeded the budget by 19% and 26% respectively. Overtime costs in 2020 included LIRR capital project work, but were mainly driven by security and cleaning needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including enhanced overnight bus service to supplement the overnight closure of the subway system to allow for deep disinfecting of stations and rolling stock. 

Approximately $133 million was spent on disinfecting and cleaning measures in 2020, which accounted for 15% of total non-reimbursable overtime. The Authority anticipates FEMA reimbursement for these labor costs and additional eligible expenses including PPE and disinfectant purchases. 

Much of the success in controlling overtime the past few years can be attributed to the innovative actions each agency has implemented. A few examples of these actions are: 

  • Using new electronic overtime approval forms for real-time oversight of requested hours. 
  • Assessing compliance with overtime policies as part of mid-year reviews and performance appraisals. 
  • Implementing weekly overtime activity reports to validate hours and pay as authorized and approved. 
  • Improving project prioritization to minimize unnecessary overtime. 

In 2021 the MTA will maintain its focus on achieving the $214 million in overtime cost reductions identified by the agencies, while continuing to focus on the successful implementation of the Morrison & Foerster and OIG timekeeping recommendations. 

Biometric verification was suspended during the pandemic for safety precautions and will be reinstated; swiping remains mandatory. Management remains focused on ensuring full usage of the new tools. 

Implementation of modern timekeeping systems has ensured greater accountability and validation of overtime spending at the MTA. As a result, Agencies are able to effectively track and analyze attendance and approval data. This data is used to create monthly high earner and overtime audits, analyzing top earners as well as randomly selected employees in departments with the most overtime. Department management is responsible for evaluating records for proper authorization, approval, and the accuracy of overtime reporting.

The 2020 overtime report is attached here.