Today, Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley, Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, and District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray announced an implementation plan and schedule for transforming governance of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). The plan responds to recommendations in the Moving Metro Forward report that was issued by the Joint WMATA Governance Task Force, sponsored by the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, and the Report on Governance of WMATA issued by WMATA's Riders' Advisory Council (RAC).
"Over the last 45 days, our transportation executives have discussed the recommendations with key stakeholders on the best path forward to help ensure the safety and performance of the system," said Governor Martin O'Malley. "Some reforms can be undertaken now, but continued work with stakeholders is needed to define the broader structural changes necessary to address the significant shortcomings in WMATA's governance structure that have contributed to a decline in its performance."
The implementation plan will deliver improvements in WMATA governance both immediately and in the medium- to long-term. Specific actions are called for within six months, twelve months and twenty-four months.
"While much work remains to be done on getting all of the details right, the steps taken today will result in a better WMATA Board and ultimately better Metrobus and Metrorail service for the region's transit riders," said D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. "That is first and foremost what this is all about."
A new WMATA Governance Work Group consisting of the Virginia and Maryland Secretaries of Transportation and the Director of the District Department of Transportation will be responsible for implementation of the plan. The Work Group will interact with key stakeholders including the WMATA Board of Directors, appointing authorities, the Tri-State Oversight Committee (TOC), RAC, General Services Administration (GSA), federal partners, and others who share our interest in improving WMATA governance. The Work Group will provide more detailed recommendations on items that require further action and will report to the public on its progress.
"We are pleased that the WMATA Board of Directors has already started to help us take action. In December, the Board defined the General Manager as WMATA's Chief Executive Officer and formed a WMATA Governance Committee that will develop a body of bylaws, seek legal opinions on the role of alternate members and the jurisdictional veto, and implement an orientation program for Board members. We are calling on the WMATA Board to take further action at their January 27, 2011 meeting to establish a multi-year regionally-focused Chair and to more closely follow the role of alternate members as stated in the WMATA Compact," said Governor Bob McDonnell.
Stakeholders involved in the evaluation included the region's Congressional delegation, the WMATA Board Chair, the WMATA Interim General Manager, TOC, Northern Virginia Transportation Commission Chair, Washington Suburban Transit Commission, DC Council Chair, representatives of the GSA and other stakeholders.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also conducting a report, commissioned by Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, on WMATA governance. The recommendations from this report will be taken into consideration by the Work Group when they become available in mid-2011.