Senior House Members Urge Removal of Amtrak’s New In-House Watchdog

The chairman and senior Republican on the House oversight committee took a step further today in their investigation of internal conflicts at Amtrak, calling for the removal of the staffer who was installed as the rail company’s inspector general (IG) after the sudden resignation of the previous in-house watchdog.

610x_2.jpgReps. Edolphus Towns (D-NY), center, and Darrell Issa (R-CA), left. (Photo: Reuters)

The House began its probe last month when former IG Fred Weiderhold resigned after releasing a report that alleged Amtrak managers had stymied his monitoring of their economic stimulus spending, in addition to high-profile projects such as New York’s Moynihan Station.

Weiderhold was replaced by Lorraine Green, a 12-year Amtrak veteran who plans to return to her manager’s job when a permanent watchdog is named.

But the IG was designed by Congress to be an impartial auditor of taxpayer spending. In that light, Green’s move "undermines the statutory independence" of the position, oversight chairman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) and his GOP counterpart, Darrell Issa (CA), wrote today in a letter to Amtrak’s president.

"The
independence of Amtrak’s inspector general is critical to
effectively weed out waste and fraud, especially now with increased stimulus
spending at Amtrak," Towns said in a statement accompanying the letter. 

"By installing one of
their own as inspector general, it looks like Amtrak management is trying to
take the teeth out of the watchdog."

Towns and Issa gave Amtrak until Friday to respond to the request.

  • BlueDawg

    Hey….isn’t that Postmaster General Farley’s monument that they are trying to construct this project?

    This is a scheme to fool the American public to Farley and his patriotic stance against term limits.

    Clinton proposed project, Clinton wanted to repeal term limits, down with the monarchy.

    Its called a bait and switch. The station does not allow them to take General Farley’s name off the Post Office, yet i have already read that they were building Moynihan Station in the “former” Farley Post Office.

  • Amtrak has/had a watchdog? I can’t imagine anyone would have thought they did looking at their spending & business practices. Especially when one looks at the massive cost per employee. Airlines couldn’t run that way, and they make tons more money than Amtrak ever has or ever will.

    I ask, why do we Americans continue to let ourselves get shafted for rail service by Amtrak? Meanwhile Britain, Japan, and other countries have privatized operations and a vast increase in passenger service in the past decade. Even France wants to privatize their SNCF, but again the powerful unions don’t seem to care about the customer, and trash the project every time.

    Come on watch dogs, get with the program and lay into it.

  • Mark

    To Adron:

    The United States once had world class passenger rail service that was run by private companies. Now we have pathetic rail service provided by one carrier– Amtrak. Why? A number of reasons, but the current lack of competition is because the private sector completely bailed from the passenger service business because there was no money in it.

    You could privatize the operation of Amtrak. I hear Bechtel and Halliburton will soon be looking for work. But what is their track record on improving service and reducing costs? Abysmal.

    Finally, are you seriously offering up the airline business as a model for the railroads? How many times as the airline industry been bailed out? Here’s your answer: more often than Amtrak, and at a much greater cost.

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