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State audit finds MTA paid dead and fired employees

Posted at 4:05 PM, Mar 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-16 16:14:42-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — A newly released report from the Office of Legislative Audits is critical of the Maryland Transit Administration's handling of payroll.

Auditors found instances where terminated MTA employees were not removed from the agency's payroll in a timely manner.

This resulted in some workers still receiving payments even though they had already been fired, and were not entitled to them.

Between April 2019 and April 2020, investigators say 164 employees remained on the MTA payroll after termination.

Five of them continued being paid four to five months after their employment ended, which equaled $4,555 in total payouts.

The audit also revealed that the MTA continued paying pensions to more than a dozen retirees who had died.

From February 2019 through May 2020, the review found that 14 former employees had died, but were still receiving a pension totaling $81,610.

MTA management reportedly told investigators they typically relied on public death notices for when to discontinue pension payments, rather than verifying through a government agency, such as the Maryland Department of Health's Vital Statistics Administration or Social Security.

Turns out, the MVA was unaware that 10 of the 14 individuals documented by auditors were actually dead.

As for the four deaths they supposedly knew about, investigators were unable to find any record of attempts by the MTA to recover the $10,261 that had been paid out to them.

In response, the MTA claims to have hired a vendor to conduct periodic reviews to identify deceased individuals. They said the process for recovering improper payments would be done in accordance with protocols set by the Office of Finance.

Then the report mentions a time in May and July 2019, where 188 employees were overpaid approximately $76,000.

That was blamed on programming errors.

The auditors personally reviewed 25 payroll transactions between May 2019 and April 2020 which found seven questionable payments valued at $17,850.

MTA later came back and said those seven payments were appropriate.

Other concerns raised in the audit had to do with protocols on how pay was approved.

For one, a random sample of 25 employee pay records from June 20, 2020 showed time sheets were not approved by an immediate supervisor, but instead by the Payroll Department who have no direct knowledge of a particular employee’s hours.

In November 2019 investigators found that 22 employees had the ability to prepare and approve their own time sheets with no independent review or approval, but there was no proof that they took advantage of that.

The MVA says they implemented a solution for time card approvals starting in December 2021.

The full report can be read below.