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Metra's board receives assessment reports from two consultants


On Friday, Metra officials posted two assessment reports on the agency's website without comment: one from Hillard Heintze, Metra's interim Office of Inspector General (OIG), and the other from accounting firm Blackman Kallick L.L.P.

The 60-page Hillard Heintze report provides an overview of its work between May 26 and Dec. 31, 2010, to assess all complaints, alerts and alleged incidents and conduct investigations within the Metra organization.

Hillard Heintze is headed by former U.S. Secret Service Chicago Special Agent-in-Charge Arnette Heintze and former Chicago Police Superintendent Terry Hillard. Metra’s board hired the firm after the May 2010 suicide of the agency’s then-Executive Director Phil Pagano, who was under investigation for alleged misconduct.

In its annual report, Hillard Heintze says a majority of the 104 complaints it received in 2010 indicated that while Metra is faced with "significant challenges," only a few complaints alleged actual corruption.

And, although the agency faces key challenges related to dispelling and dismantling the "Pagano legacy," the firm found "no evidence of widespread or institutionalized fraud, waste or abuse in the Metra organization," Hillard Heintze officials said in the report.

Meanwhile, Blackman Kallick issued a 200-page report of its risk assessment and internal controls evaluation of the agency's administrative and financial controls, as well as recommendations for best practice solutions. Metra's board hired Blackman Kallick in June to advise the board on governance, financial controls and oversight.

Earlier this month, Metra's board appointed Alexander Clifford, an executive with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to be the commuter-rail agency's new executive director and chief executive officer.

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