New BART inspector general starts in August

BART has hired a new inspector general to oversee the transit agency's operations, including its police force, maintenance department and customer relations division.

Gov. Gavin Newsom last month appointed Harriett Richardson to the job, about a year after Bay Area voters approved a measure calling for an inspector general to plan, direct, and manage the independent oversight of all BART activities and operations. 

She starts in August.

Under the job, Richardson can conduct independent audits and investigations and provide findings to BART's Board of Directors, the California State Legislature, and the public. This is to ensure the effective use of resources and compliance with federal and state laws.  
"The appointment of Ms. Richardson as BART's new inspector general helps BART reach a new level of transparency and accountability to the riding public and the taxpayers who fund the cost of BART infrastructure and operations," said BART Board District 1 Director Debora Allen.

Richardson brings almost 30 years of experience conducting independent management reviews and audits, most recently as Palo Alto's city auditor  She has also served as the audit director for the city of San Francisco and the audit manager/deputy director for the city of Berkeley,

Richardson said she will not report to BART management but has their full support. 

"It helps you know that they've got your back and you're gonna have their back with the types of things you're looking at," said Richardson.
Richardson added:  "I'm coming in from the outside. So, I have no obligation,  (no) previous obligation to anyone in BART. (The job is) completely independent. The way that position was selected was to ensure that independence." 

All departments, including BART Police, are within Richardson's oversight.

"I've audited police functions in the past. So it is like its own city in that it has typical function that you'd see in a city, You know, procurement, HR, maintenance functions," said Richardson.

She will also consult with BART customers. "And sometimes it means asking the riders, you know, what do you like about BART? What bothers you? What things do you think would make you stop riding BART?" she said. 

Richardson added that she also plans to set up an employee hotline to report abuse, waste and fraud.