Bullet Train Audit Pending

4_7_10_bullet.jpg

I was getting caught up with my transit reading and stumbled across an
interesting item on the agenda of the April 8th Board meeting of the
California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA)
.

Item #9 states

"Staff will discuss the timing of an upcoming audit
report being produced by the Bureau of State Audits, and recommend
means by which the Board may participate in the review of the publication. This may include delegation of responsibility to an Audit Report Review Committee."

The Committee is slated to meet April 14th and "consider the
Authority’s response to the confidential final draft audit report from
the Bureau of State Audits."

When the California Bureau of State Audits (BSA) or the U.S.
Governmental Accountability Office (GAO) do a report on an agency they
will share the final draft with the agency so it has a chance to
provide responses that are included in the report as an appendix.

The BSA website gives the estimated release date of the report as April
29th, so obviously the turnaround for CHSRA to respond is rather short.

Reading the audit scope and objectives a lot of it sounds like general
principles of effective management and oversight in CHSRA’s past
operations are the object of scrutiny. Though it will include an
evaluation of its competence to meet challenges: "Determine if the
Authority is structured to administer and manage the bond proceeds and
any other funding in compliance with applicable laws, rules, and
regulations. In addition, assess whether its processes and controls are
transparent, provide accountability, and ensure the cost-effective use
of public resources."

It
is a staple of traditional media and the blogosphere to give coverage
to the release of reports dealing with public policy, whether by
non-partiasan public entitles like the Congressional Budget Office,
Grand Juries or the California Legislative Analyst’s Office or from key
stakeholders like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or Sierra Club. So we
can expect when this report is issued it will generate interest and
attention.

Partly this is because
interest in high speed rail has become intense over the past year or
so. With the assistance of Kymberleigh Richards I recently did a
thorough update to the page on the SO.CA.TA website on the bullet train
proposal and was floored at how many resources now exist on the topic. 
Passage
of the bonds and the slow but steady planning progress by the
Authority, along with a new federal funding program, has fueled this
buzz. Hard to imagine only a few years ago there was a movement afoot
to zero out the CHSRA
.

The project still has many hurdles to surmount but it looks a lot more possible than one would have thought not so long ago.

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