Inspector General: Palm Tran Connection dispatchers altered on-time records

010615 palm tran 3

Carey

Carey

Palm Tran Connection managers altered, or directed dispatchers to alter, between 21,000 and 46,000 reports, making them “inaccurate and inflated” and allowing the agency to reach a goal of a 95 percent on-time record in the past 14 months, the Palm Beach County Inspector General said Thursday.

“No one admitted, ‘we are doing this in order to meet the 95 percent goal,’” Inspector General John Carey said Thursday. But, he said, “that is a logical conclusion that people could bring.”

Clinton Forbes, who came on as Palm Tran director in November, told The Palm Beach Post Thursday he plans to hire an outside entity to conduct an investigation for him.

“If we find that any employee manipulated the numbers, or cooked the books, there will be severe administrative action,” Forbes said.

Proper time records could have led to penalties to contractors of as much as $1.26 million, the 100-plus page report by Carey’s office said. It did find more than 100 cases where contractors were penalized $60 per occurrence, but Carey said, “We believe there were obviously a lot more occasions.”

Forbes said the $1.26 million estimate is wrong because Palm Tran Connection doesn’t penalize for tardiness, only for failed pickups.

Jones

Jones

The report said management of the county bus service for the elderly and disabled “disagreed with our finding” but did concur with the Inspector General’s nine recommendations. They include “take appropriate personnel action.” Forbes said Thursday that Ron Jones remains the Palm Tran Connection director.

 

Forbes

Forbes

The report says Jones admitted ordering computer audit programs to be turned off, allowing people to go back and change previous reporting without any audit trail. The summary said Jones told investigators in September that he’d stopped, but that a Connection staffer came forward in February to say that the misdirection was continuing.

Forbes told The Post, and the ageny said in remarks included in the Inspector General’s report, Palm Tran said there are several reasons that on-time performances are changed after the fact.

But, Carey said Thursday, “why was it that when we brought it to their attention, it went down below that 95 percent, and it’s never been there again?”

To read more, go later to mypalmbeachpost.com.OIG1