GAO Faults Metro Board


A federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) performance audit, released yesterday, faults the Metro Board of Directors for micro-management and lack of strategic focus, among other failings, according to an excellent article in today’s Washington Post by Dana Hedgpeth.

The Metro Board has been called to task by GAO for getting involved in decisions no Board of Directors should ever be involved in — the hiring and firing of individual employees (other than the General Manager) and other minor personnel policies, “excessive contact” with mid-level managers, and such operational minutae as picking out seat colors and station tiles.  As anyone who has ever run an effective non-profit organization knows, these are not the kind of decisions any Board should make.  This is why you hire a General Manager who then manages his or her professional staff without any interference from the Board. 

A Board of Directors should stay focused on its proper role:  Setting policy and overall strategic direction, providing resources and financial oversight,  and hiring and overseeing the performance of a General Manager.   That’s it. 

According to GAO, if Metro’s Board did a better job of staying out of the weeds, it would be more effective in keeping its strategic focus where it should be:  On key issues like safety, repairs and maintenance, and customer service.  If the new Board takes this feedback seriously, and lets General Manager Richard Sarles do his job, perhaps we can see better results and more accountability in the system in the future.