U.S. Attorney Clears UTA from Ongoing Federal Investigation, Recognizes Major Reforms
Inquiry Examined Activities Between 2008 and 2014
The Utah Transit Authority and U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber’s Office today (April 4, 2017) signed a “Non-Prosecution Agreement” removing UTA from an ongoing investigation into inadequate checks and balances and problematic actions that occurred during a period of rapid growth at the agency between 2008 and 2014.
“This is effectively the U.S. Attorney’s stamp of approval on reforms UTA’s Board of Trustees and management team has put in place over the past three years to address past problems and set us on an accountable and transparent path forward,” said UTA Board Chair Robert McKinley.
“Despite how difficult the past few years have been,” added UTA President/CEO Jerry Benson, “we’re appreciative of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the State of Utah’s Legislative Auditor General for their thorough work to investigate inadequacies and questionable activities that occurred between 2008 and 2014, a period of major expansion of UTA’s light rail and commuter rail network.”
In short, UTA grew very quickly and – as the federal investigation and legislative audit clearly found – the agency’s internal accountability system was insufficient, resulting in poor documentation of federal funds, inadequate oversight of real estate transactions, noncompliance with ethical standards, and improper approval of executive bonuses (which were later canceled and never paid).
Immediately following a 2014 legislative audit that identified many of these issues and concerns, UTA’s Board and management began implementing dozens of reforms to strengthen checks and balances, tighten compensation and travel policies, improve transparency, and enact the strictest ethical standards of any public agency in Utah.
“UTA is a much different organization today than it was three years ago,” noted Board Chair McKinley. “Multiple reforms and changes have been enacted to improve UTA, but we know we have a long road ahead to rebuild the public’s trust and support.”
The Agreement with the U.S. Attorney recognizes UTA’s reform efforts and puts in place an independent monitor for up to three years to ensure the reforms continue to be effective and to recommend additional improvements if needed. UTA has also agreed to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in its further investigations.
With the federal investigation over and the Agreement in place, UTA’s full and undivided attention can be focused on:
- Providing the best-possible transit service to our customers and communities,
- Being the best stewards we can be of the public resources entrusted to us by taxpayers,
- Conducting our business in clear view of the public,
- Adhering to the strictest ethical standards of any public agency in Utah, and
- Honoring and supporting our hard-working and loyal employees.
We know people depend on UTA. And we depend on them. Working together, we’re committed to building a better UTA.
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