Press Release

Nov 18, 2011

Construction Authority Board Adopts New Policies to Enhance Agency’s Transparency and Accountability

November 17, 2011

Contact: Lisa Levy Buch
Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority

Construction Authority Board Adopts New Policies to  Enhance Agency’s
Transparency and Accountability

Newly adopted travel and expense guidelines address recently identified areas needing improvement

MONROVIA – The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board of Directors, in an action that will increase the agency’s transparency and accountability, last night adopted enhancements to existing policies that provide new guidelines for out-of-state travel expenditures by Board members and Authority employees and clarify reporting requirements for all expenses.

The board adopted an updated personnel policy and procedures manual that details these new policies for receiving reimbursement from the Authority for business-related out-of-state travel and other expenses. The policies include specific limitations for air travel, ground transportation, hotels and meals while on Authority business more than 50 miles from the office. The new policies augment the previous ones that only addressed reimbursement for business-related expenses while traveling in California.

Additionally, the new manual updates the expense and credit card policies to require original receipts for reimbursement for business-related expenses, as well as a detailed explanation of the purpose of the expense and the benefit it has for the Authority.

“As a public agency, it is vital that we are transparent and fully accountable for how we spend tax-payer funds,” stated Construction Authority Board Chairman and Glendora Mayor Doug Tessitor. “After identifying areas needing improvement in the Authority’s policies, the board and staff moved immediately to address this matter and adopted new policies that will ensure we are fully accountable.”
The new policies are effective immediately.  Among the policies for receiving reimbursement for business-related expenses were the following:

  • Staff and board members should stay in “business” class hotels – such as a Hyatt, Hilton or Marriott – when traveling out of state, or in a conference hotel, if attending a conference. Only the cost of the room and taxes will be reimbursed. Personal expenses, such as movie rentals, will not be reimbursed.
  • Staff and board members should use public transit when available and a taxi or car service where “necessary and reasonable.”
  • First class and business class air travel won’t be reimbursed, unless exceptions are warranted and approved in advance.
  • Requests for reimbursements for business meals must include original receipts, documentation of attendees, date, name, title, affiliation, subject discussed, amount paid, purpose and benefit to the Authority.
  • Reimbursements for meals and incidental expenses on out-of-state trips are limited to $90 per day per person.

Before the Board acted, the Authority didn’t have clear-cut guidelines for reimbursing business-related expenses for out-of-state travel because its staff and board members rarely traveled outside California. But now that the Authority has a project officially underway, its staff and board occasionally travels to Washington, D.C. and other places to meet with federal officials and others to secure funding and ensure the Gold Line project continues to move forward to meet the needs of the region’s commuters.In the past two years, the Board and Authority averaged three out-of-state trips each year —all related to Authority business and were conducted as quickly as possible.

“These trips have led to some important project milestones, including a $9 million grant and discussions about new legislation to speed up the review process for the Gold Line and other rail projects,” said Tessitor. “After reviewing the travel patterns for the board and staff over the past few years and knowing that additional  trips will be necessary to keep this important transportation project moving forward,  we wanted to clarify the policies to ensure transparency and accountability to the public.”

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About the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1999 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line from Union Station to the Los Angeles County Line, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley.  The Metro Gold Line light rail line opened in 2003, connecting downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. Los Angeles County’s Measure R half-cent sales tax increase is fully funding the 11.5-mile Foothill Extension project from Pasadena and Azusa. The Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa broke ground in June 2010, and will be completed in 2015. Three design-build contracts, totaling more than $500 million will be awarded to complete this effort, generating nearly 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic output in the next three years of construction.  Future extensions are also planned.
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