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January 23, 2008


MTA Security Program Still Faces Delays, Cost Increases

DiNapoli: Problems with Electronic Security Drive Costs, Offset Progress

Project delays and unexpected cost increases continue to undermine progress on Phase I of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) capital security program, which has seen its price tag effectively rise to $837 million from $591 million, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said in a report released today.

“We’ve seen some real progress, and the MTA has made commuters safer, but costs continue to rise and difficulties persist,” DiNapoli said. “The electronic security component of the capital security program has not lived up to expectations — and it’s behind schedule and over budget. The MTA must do better on this front.”

The MTA has scaled back an important element of its integrated electronic security program because it has not worked as expected. Even with this adjustment, the scaled-back program will not be completed until December 2009, 16 months later than planned. The cost of the overall electronic security initiative has risen 70 percent from $265 million to $450 million.

Under the integrated electronic security program, the MTA intends to install more than 1,000 cameras and 3,000 sensors throughout its system, including motion sensors, intrusion detection devices, and intelligent video. These devices will be monitored at control posts throughout the MTA region and linked to a central command center.

The added costs are due to the overall program’s expanded scope, the need to purchase additional properties to house control centers, and a bandwidth upgrade to the MTA’s computer network. The MTA is also considering another $51 million in additional work orders.

Despite problems with the electronic security program, overall security has improved in 2007. Since January 1, 2007, the MTA has completed 12 construction tasks, bringing the total number of completed security improvements to 17. Importantly, the MTA has hardened 11 critical transportation facilities and has installed perimeter protection around a major transportation facility.

However, while the MTA has made progress, the capital security program continues to experience delays and unplanned costs. The MTA has encountered delays during the design phase of the capital security program, but projects have even fallen behind the schedules established at the time the construction contracts were awarded.

DiNapoli’s report found that:

  • The capital security program has not met the MTA’s expectations. As of December 2007, 75 percent of the projects in Phase I were a year or more behind the schedules set by the MTA in late 2003 and early 2004, including four projects that were three or more years behind schedule.
  • The cost of Phase I has effectively grown from $591 million to $837 million, an increase of $246 million, or 42 percent. Much of the growth in the cost of the capital security program can be traced to the integrated electronic security program.
  • Construction projects are taking longer than scheduled. As of December 2007, 67 percent of the 30 construction tasks that had been completed or were still in progress were behind the schedules established at the time the construction contracts were awarded, compared with 27 percent in July 2006.
  • Nine construction tasks were seven or more months behind the contract schedule in December 2007 — a threefold increase since March 2007.
  • These delays have helped push back the completion of Phase I of the capital security program until May 2010 — more than a year and half later than the MTA’s original estimate of September 2008. A number of factors have contributed to the delays, including an underestimation by the MTA of the complexity of the challenge and difficulties coordinating multiple stakeholders.

The State Comptroller’s report is the fourth since March 2006 on the progress of the capital security program, which is improving the security of the transportation system’s most vulnerable and heavily used assets (such as stations, transit hubs, bridges, and tunnels). Security improvements include perimeter protection, structural hardening, improved fire/life/safety and evacuation, and electronic security and surveillance.

Click here for a copy of the report.

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