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11/8/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

USDOT to tighten reins on Amtrak


The U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) has taken a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on Amtrak to heart. The department plans to increase oversight of the national passenger railroad in light of the report’s criticism of Amtrak’s business procedures.

After reviewing Amtrak’s strategic planning, financial reporting and management practices, cost-containment strategies, acquisition management, and accountability and oversight, GAO concluded that the railroad needs to better measure and monitor performance, and improve financial controls.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta has called on Amtrak to implement the recommendations.

"For the past several years, I have been urging Amtrak to clean up its act and become more accountable to taxpayers and the traveling public," said Mineta in a prepared statement. "I hope this report will be a turning point for Amtrak."

Mineta has directed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to obtain from Amtrak a plan to improve financial reporting and management practices. The FRA will monitor progress and issue an annual status report to Congress.

The USDOT also will require Amtrak to demonstrate how the railroad will improve acquisition practices before receiving federal grants, and develop clear measures of overall corporate performance. The USDOT will include the measures in annual reports issued to Congress, which also will note recommendations on how Congress can help the railroad reform.


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