ORINDA, Calif. (KRON) — In Orinda on Friday, BART’s outgoing inspector general said that the transit agency needs to make some changes. The BART inspector general position was created in 2019 with the mandate of conducting oversight at BART.
Four years later, the first person to hold the role, Harriet Richardson, says she is leaving the job early, four months before her term was set to end. She says that during her time as IG, BART management and BART employee unions made it difficult for her to do her job.
She says she had trouble accessing records, talking to employees, and securing funding for the IG office, all of which led her to conclude she couldn’t continue in the role.
“You reach a point where you say enough is enough,” Richardson said.
BART, meanwhile, is facing potential budget deficit of up to $300 million per year due in large part to a decrease in ridership following the coronavirus pandemic. Richardson says she feels that if BART management were to embrace the work of the IG office, it would help them balance the books.
“There is more opportunity of efficiency, there is more opportunity to eliminate waste and identify fraud and weed that out. BART has to change the culture from the top down and set the tone at the top that we don’t want waste. We don’t want fraud. If the IG identifies it, we are going to cooperate with them and weed that out. That’s the key to changing the culture at BART,” Richardson said.
A BART spokesperson was at Friday’s press conference but declined to respond to Richardson’s accusation. The spokesperson did say that BART would issue a response at some point.