Sound Transit Board welcomes Citizen Oversight Panel critique and recommendations
The Sound Transit Board is taking to heart the comments and recommendations put forward in the Citizens' 2000 Performance Report presented today by the independent Citizen Oversight Panel (COP), according to Board Chair Dave Earling, an Edmonds city councilmember.
"The role of the Citizen Panel is to provide us with very direct and constructive criticism and that's exactly what they've done in their report covering the year 2000," Earling said. "The COP has accurately captured the issues that the board and the agency must address to restore public confidence, and in fact we're already beginning to more in the directions they recommend."
Earling said he was also pleased that the panel plans to communicate its assessments to the Sound Transit Board more regularly than its current semi-annual reporting schedule. "It will be very helpful to Sound Transit to have more immediate feedback from the panel."
The panel's report covering the agency's performance through calendar-year 2000 identified three areas of concern regarding the central Link light rail project: Whether the revised financial plan for the project is overly optimistic and can avoid repeating past errors in cost estimating, the failure of project management procedures to control project budget and schedule, and the board's not reacting rapidly enough in holding management accountable for the problems that arose. The panel report includes ten recommendations for addressing these concerns as the project moves forward.
Sound Transit Board Finance Committee Chair Greg Nickels, a King County Councilmember, said that while the report is critical it is also constructive in that it recommends possible remedies for avoiding similar problems in the future.
"All of us on the board take our oversight role very seriously," Nickels said. "As I've said before, failure is not an option for this project and I believe we as boardmembers as well as the staff need to implement the recommendations of the COP immediately. It is the only way to assure that we deliver the system promised to the voters as cost¬effectively as possible."
Nickels described the role of the Citizen Panel as one of "tough love." "They want to see the light rail project succeed for the good of our region, and they recognize that their role in doing so is to call it the way they see it when we misstep," Nickels said. "The Citizen Oversight Panel has again done a great service not only for the board, but for the people of the Puget Sound region."
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Sound Transit plans, builds and operates regional transit systems and services to improve mobility for Central Puget Sound.