The title of the California State Auditor’s report on the state’s planned $42-billion high-speed rail system pretty much sums up the situation: “[High-speed rail] Risks Delays or an Incomplete System Because of Inadequate Planning, Weak Oversight, and Lax Contract Management.”

The report was a broad-based indictment on the High-Speed Rail Authority’s handling of a proposed system that supporters say will change the face of travel up and down the Golden State.

Last month Voice of OC reported the high-speed rail project is so poorly thought-out at this point that even supporters say the plans might have to be completely overhauled.

The audit report reached essentially the same conclusion. Among the audit’s findings.

  • The Authority’s 2009 business plan estimates it needs $17 billion to $19 billion in federal funds. However, the Authority has no federal commitments beyond $2.25 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), and other potential federal programs are small.
  • The Authority’s plan for spending includes almost $12 billion in federal and state funds through 2013, more than 2.5 times what is now available.
  • The Authority does not have a system in place to track expenditures according to categories established by the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century, its largest source of committed funding.
  • The Authority has not completed some systems needed to administer Recovery Act funds, for example, a system to track jobs created and saved.
  • Some monthly progress reports, issued by the Authority’s contracted Program Manager to provide a summary of program status, contain inconsistent and inaccurate information.
  • Authority staff paid at least $4 million of invoices from regional contractors received after December 2008, without having documented written notification that the Program Manager had reviewed and approved the invoices for payment.
  • The Authority paid contractors more than $268,000 for services performed outside of the contractors’ work plans and purchased $46,000 in furniture for one of its contractor’s use, based on an oral agreement contradicted by a later written contract.

I’m digging through the audit and making a round of calls to folks like Anaheim Mayor Curt Pringle, the chair of the rail authority. Stay tuned.


Since you've made it this far,

You are obviously connected to your community and value good journalism. As an independent and local nonprofit, our news is accessible to all, regardless of what they can afford. Our newsroom centers on Orange County’s civic and cultural life, not ad-driven clickbait. Our reporters hold powerful interests accountable to protect your quality of life. But it’s not free to produce. It depends on donors like you.

Join the conversation: In lieu of comments, we encourage readers to engage with us across a variety of mediums. Join our Facebook discussion. Message us via our website or staff page. Send us a secure tip. Share your thoughts in a community opinion piece.