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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 26, 2016 4:00am-6:01am EDT

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the bush administration, george bush administration. he's now a professor at a&m in texas university. you and james both need to interview this individual. >> i know morgan. >> caller: yes. and discuss his book. and thank you for your time and effort, james. >> well, thank you, sir. >> tell us about who he's talking about and how do you know him. >> morgan reynolds has done some very good work on government interventions, on government waste. he's very free market oriented. he's very skeptical of the official story on 9/11. i am not so skeptical of that. i think it was basically a vast number of government screw-ups, which the government does well. one of the few things the government does well. but it's frustrating to me to see -- it's understandable to me that a lot of people would think that 9/11 was a conspiracy because the government has changed the story so many times. but that doesn't prove the government did it. and if you look at the 9/11 commission, for instance, when
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their report came out in the summer of 2004, which was very timely for bush's re-election campaign, it basically avoided finding fault with the government, instead had all these broad big theories. it turned out a lot of the 9/11 commission information came from torture. the 9/11 commissioners were actually sending requests to the cia to find out more information about this and that and so many of the details which they provided in their official storyline of the 9/11 attacks came from torture of some of the suspects. phillip chennin of the "new york times" has done some excellent work on that. it's not just me. you have that look on your face kind of like uh-oh, where's he going with this? where's he going? >> not at all. finish your thought, though. >> i was just saying it's typical of how official history is written in d.c. that you have this panel, this bipartisan panel, the 9/11 commission, which largely ab sovld the government and relied on torture. and that fact comes out three or
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four years later and people say, eh. but this is how history's written in d.c. >> what i wanted to add to the conversation is this whole debate over the 28 pages of the 9/11 commission report because senator rand paul wants to add an amendment to the national defense authorization bill that the senate's debating and voting on this week that would release those 28 pages. >> yeah. i'm all in favor of that. i wrote a story for "usa today" last july on this. there's a group called 28pages.org that does great work. it's really helped propel this issue. it makes no sense for the u.s. to be covering up these key materials, this key information on what happened on 9/11 especially when it appears that the saudi government may have been -- the people in the saudi government may have been financing some of the people that carried out the 9/11 attacks. 15 of the 19 people reported hijackers as saudis and yet you had the bush administration, you had others just very anxious to sweep this under the rug.
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senator bob graham of florida, former senator, has done great work on this issue. >> we are talking about james bovard's piece in "reason" magazine, the recent edition of it. the title, "the high price of security theater: the $4 trillion war on terror, where did the money go." martina, north andover, massachusetts. republican. you're next. >> caller: yes. i'm actually independent. but i'm speaking -- i'd like to speak to the issue of the sale of arms being big business, big profit. it ties into the issue of war, the fear-based culture that we live in. president obama's visit to vietnam lifting the arms embargo for sale of arms. my question would be why are we going around the world selling arms, adding to the mayhem, big sale, big arms sales, big bucks, big mayhem. on a most basic level when a child hits a friend with a bat do we give them another bat?
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no, we take the bat away. and i think james is a voice of reason. and i think many of us need to get on board with practicalities, common sense. why are we arming up all of these people, all of these whatever you want to call them, and wondering about what happens after the fact. >> thanks for your comment. thanks for the excellent question. it's -- yeah. it's a good point about all these sales, the arms sales. and i think there's a lot of parallels if you look at who's donated to the clinton foundation and who's -- i mean, there's been a big increase i think in the approvals for arms sales since obama took office, especially when hillary clinton was president. secretary of state. there was an article in "mother jones" recently that broke down some of the parallels between a lot of the big military contractors have donated to the clinton foundation and they've done very well under this. the article -- the comment on the fear-based culture, we have that in this country as well
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because basically what we have is an awful lot of fear mongering. there's been a profound change in the american politics the last 15 years and it's made it much easier for the government to push the fear alarm and make a lot of people a lot more docile. you see that with tsa. you see folks willing to do anything. i mean, they would bend over and squeal if tsa said so. i mean, it's amazing to see how the government's become so much more intrusive. and i've written a lot about tsa. the tsa chief publicly condemned my work a couple years ago. i was hurt deeply. but it's interesting to chat folks up in the tsa line and see, well, what do you think of this. a lot of them are kind of saying this is a bunch of crap. but others are saying, i'm glad that they're keeping me safe. and i'm thinking, like, you know, i've got a bridge in brooklyn i'll sell you. but politicians have sold that bridge in brooklyn to the american people. that's why our federal debt has skyrocketed. >> the congress will hear from the tsa administrator today up
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on capitol hill to testify about what's going on with those long airport security lines. that's at 10:00 a.m. eastern time on c-span 3 this morning. and you write about the tsa in this piece that we're talking about and how much money has gone to them since 2001. $70 billion for the tsa. tsa behavior detection officers, another billion. tsa time wasting. you calculated that at 8 billion. so we'll talk about that. >> yeah, that's low. that's very low. >> tell us about time wasting by tsa. >> yeah, i mean, basically people need to get to the airport earlier than what they would have in the pre-9/11 era. maybe half an hour, maybe an hour. i mean, crap, tsa is telling people now to get to the airport three hours early. you've got a place in chicago and they get there that early and they're just stretched out forever. that's a real cost. and that's something that changes. you mentioned behavior detection. tsa has thousands of behavior
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detection officers who are kind of wandering around airports and they're looking for micro signs, micro aggression, whatever, people's faces that would give away the fact that they have terrorist intent. now, for instance, if someone is yawning or someone seems nervous or they're sweaty, that's a sign you that might be a terrorist. but tsa is the only security agency in the world that considers it a terrorist warning sign if someone has excessive complaints about airport security. >> and boith by the way, this hearing today about tsa also on c-span radio. you can tune in if you're in your car but also if you have your cell phone or mobile device, we have a radio app you can listen to what the tsa administrator has to say there. doug, newport news, virginia, independent caller. you're next. >> caller: hello. it's a pleasure to talk with you this morning. i have a question about the budgetary concerns regarding the
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wars. senator bernie sanders is proposing what people are miscalling a free college. he's actually propose iing coll reimbursement for state college tuition. anybody who's ever gone to college understands that tuition is a small part of going to college. you have room and board and books and living expenses also. would the cost of the wars in afghanistan be able to pay for people to go to college on his program? >> i don't know the breakdown of the separate costs in afghanistan. i'm also not exactly sure what senator sanders is proposing. it would -- you know, it would certainly -- well, it's fascinating to see the details in afghanistan because we poured in hundreds of billions of dollars and it's financed corruption. for instance, in the top military hospital in afghanistan the afghan equivalent of walter
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reed there was so much corruption that wounded soldiers starved to death because they could not pay bribes to the hospital staff for food. "washington post" had a great story a couple weeks ago about how the afghan army doesn't have boots because they're so corrupt in their contracting that the boots they get fall apart the first time soldiers wear them. i mean, we've simply fizzled this away and we've made afghan a more corrupt place because of it. >> paul is calling from arizona. an independent caller. you're on the air. >> caller: good morning. i would like james to maybe address the subject of terrorism didn't start in a vacuum. the creation of the hate of our way of life was due to our own actions. and now we're spending, like he says, $4 trillion here already fighting something that is an idea and a reaction to our past
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policies. >> mr. bovard. >> that's an excellent point. there are, if you look back at 9/11, osama bin laden said there were three primary reasons for it. one of which was u.s. troops being stationed in the muslim holy land, in saudi arabia. another one was the embargo on iraq. another one was u.s. support of israel. you know, especially on the troops in saudi arabia, it made no sense to have them there, to be stirring up all that hatred. and our other policies have also done that. but what we need is a supply-side anti-terrorism policy because at this point the u.s. government is doing so many things, it's creating new terrorists and it's going to be people that will hate us in the future. and might want to kill us. for instance, obama's drone policy. the president has been very secretive about how many people he's killed. and there have been a lot of civilians who died in those attacks, and we don't know how
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many. and the obama administration had some hokeum about how, well, if it was a military-age male, which means a male between the age of what, 16 and 50 or 60, then we're going to assume he was a terror suspect. well, this is utterly -- this is absurd. but this is how the government covers its butt. and we're seeing this forever in the war on terror. we're seeing the logic being twisted. we're seeing the secrecy. and the only consistent thing is the government always wins. >> how did it come about that transportation security administration, you put the price tag at $70 billion. how'd you come to that figure and how did it come about that tsa would get that much money, more than the fbi in this war against terror? >> well, see, you have to keep in mind that right after 9/11 the transportation secretary promised the tsa would hire the best and the brightest and that's where they've gotten all the money. basically, i just added up their
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budget from 2002 onwards. and it's interesting. tsa's moaning and groaning about how it's struggling right now with budget cuts. tsa had more agents and i think a larger budget in 2007 when there were more travelers than what it has right now. these huge delays at tsa are largely because tsa's more intrusive. these whole body scanners are not worth a gallon of spoiled milk and yet you have them swelling up the airports. and you also have tsa being much more aggressive. i was flying back from portland on thanksgiving and i got to the airport early and i chose to opt out instead of going through the whole body scanners and the tsa agent does the usual patent and he takes off his gloves. then he takes you over to the explosive trace detector and goes oh, this shows a positive alert for explosives. you know, i was out in oregon. it wasn't like i was launching missiles or spending time -- i said, what explosive does it show? i don't know. it's a code.
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well, you know, how often do you get false alerts from this? that's classified. okay. so he and two other agents take me to a private screening room where i get an enhanced pat-down where it's a lot more vig rois, a lot more aggressive and it concludes with this tsa guy basically grinding his hand, his palm into my groin like he's trying to turn my family jewels into a pancake. so i have tsa on that in "usa today." i've filed a foia request and got the videotapes of when i was going through that checkpoint. and it has all the different segments except when i'm taken behind closed doors, where they were very aggressive. and this is like a metaphor of the entire war on terror. yeah, it seems bad, it seems stupid, and then they take you behind closed doors and it gets a whole lot worse. and yet very few people on capitol hill have really turned up the heat on tsa. there have been some people. john mica's hammered them at
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times. >> just on our show yesterday. >> yep. yep. i mean, i wish he would twist the -- would be more vigorous on that. but i think it was a congressman from south carolina, clyburn -- >> james clyburn. >> yeah. james clyburn said one of the problems with tsa is it doesn't treat congressmen specially, it doesn't realize that congressmen need to be really -- hey, this is a special class. i'd love to know how many of these congressmen effectively get a pass and don't get hassled by tsa. president obama said that nobody would say that tsa was an example of how people are losing their freedoms. and tell that to the people in lines in chicago and atlanta and tell that -- i mean, there's a lot of women who have been horrendously abused in these enhanced pat-downs. it's a lot more of a trauma for a woman than for a guy. and it's unjustified. it's sheer harassment. >> salem, oregon. ron is there, a republican,
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next. you're on the air. >> caller: yeah, thank you. good morning. you know, what's really got us in this mess is our eight-year lame duck. and we really don't need hillary to follow that up. >> all right. that was ron's opinion. we'll go to shawn. providence, rhode island. a democrat. good morning. >> caller: greetings. certainly i appreciate c-span. can you hear me? >> we can, shawn. >> caller: anyway. james is a very bright guy with a very astute and very broad knowledge of the circumstances. my question is what would you replace it with? because your description is very doomsday. and i appreciate it fully. because nobody could be more disappointed with our government and its non-functional status than me. but what would you replace it with? what kind of world -- you're a philosopher type. what kind of world vision do you have that would be much more successful in terms of harmonizing the people on the face of the earth and enabling them to live somewhat peacefully? >> yeah, thanks for the excellent question. i've written about free trade a lot over the last few decades. i did a book a while back called
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fair trade criticizing protectionism. free trade is one thing. but if we simply mind our own business it's not a panacea. there will still be people who hate us no matter if we don't bomb their country or overthrow their government or things like that. but that would be a great first step. and on the home front privatize airport security. it would be a huge step. i mean, you had the i.g. report that leaked out last year, showed that the tsa failed 95% of the time to detect bombs and explosives. okay. it didn't fail 100% of the time. but it almost cannot be worse. but a fundamental change between 9/11 -- i mean and now is going to the airports now you're dealing with federal agents. they have sovereign immunity. they can harass you. they can sexually assault you. they can steal your things. fbi -- the tsa's fired more than 500 agents for stealing from
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passengers. and that's probably only the tip of the iceberg on the amount of theft that's been happening. they've had more than 70,000 people have complained to the tsa about theft or damaged luggage or property from the tsa. we need to put the government back on a leash. and that's the fundamental problem because the government is out of control. it's been out of control since 9/11 when george w. bush promised that he would rid the world of evil. and i was -- you know, i was watching him on tv, and he said that, and i said, okay, now people are going to laugh. they haven't. instead people just said oh, that's a great idea. let's rid the world of evil. and the first thing that he does is unleash the government to rid the world of evil. but the founding fathers realized that the most -- that the most basic step is put a leash on the politicians because otherwise they will destroy our rights, our freedom, and our prosperity. >> by the way, a tweet from steven who says "attention deficit democracy. that's a line i will reuse.
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very apt." that's also the title of your book. >> it's a book i wrote in 2006. >> you're writing in "usa today" as well about corruption. we can talk about that a little bit. but what do you focus on? where is most of your research and your writing on? >> well, basically, i just try to think of topics that would help build faith in government. >> your sarcasm is coming through. >> hey, i was hoping it did. the last time i was on -- last time i was on c-span, the host asked me, well, what is your political orientation? i said, well, you know, i'm a moderate. and he says, you don't sound like one. no. i just try to -- what i've done for decades is try to write about things that would help people understand how the government has far too much power and it's not something a democrat or republican thing. i've done books attacking bill clinton. i've done books attacking george w. bush. but the politicians as a class
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have far too much power oaf the rest rest us and the government is a deadly peril to our rights and liberties. this is what americans used to understand. but now there's this officer friendly notion of government that we're supposed to presume that the government's going to be like some kind of guardian angel and it doesn't matter what we do or where we go, the government will take care of us. but again, i just try to focus on the nuts and bolts of what the government does to help people recognize how much of their rights and liberties that they have lost. and also to make them laugh at times. because laughing at the government is a badge of freedom. >> san francisco, david, independent. good morning. >> caller: yeah, good morning. i agree and disagree with him. i suspect actually that "operation gladio" is behind 9/11 and this whole situation. but i'm interested in how he calculated the top secret
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budget. you know, if basically the taxpayers are supposed to have taxation with representation, now it's against the law for the congressmen to even know how the budgets are being spent, much less it's against the law for them to tell us how these budgets are being -- >> david, you're referring to the intelligence budgets. >> caller: well, he's talking about a $4 trillion spending campaign. and how does he -- >> we'll take that point. jim bovard, the intelligence budgets were not known. it was secret. was not allowed to be public. and then in the past, what, five years or something congress said -- >> snowden. snowden. one word. snowden. >> we'll let you know what the top line is for the intelligence. >> right. and it's an excellent question, the caller. i appreciate that. this is a good example of how this cloak of secrecy has covered up so many things the government has done since 9/11.
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i think that they're saying the intelligence budget agencies are around what, 56, 55, 59. >> billion. >> yeah, billion. but if you just have a round number it's sort of like going to a car dealer and you ask about a car, well, that's 40,000. what do i get for 40,000? i can't tell you. and this is what we have with so many of these federal agencies. and the nsa has basically screwed up massively before 9/11 and has the budget has greatly increased of course. and it's an example. but a lot of these other intelligence agencies, we've got no idea what the heck they're doing. it was wonderful that snowden did what he did. i wish there were a dozen more. and there's other agencies like the state department. the state department has so much secret funding. on foreign aid we have very little idea how much of it is
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spent because as the old saying goes, foreign aid is money from a government, to a government, for a government. >> and that's what you're writing about today in "usa today" p. >> that's part of what i wrote about today, how u.s. foreign aid is breeding corruption around the world at the same time that john kerry is taking his public vow to fight corruption. it's a paradox. >> when it comes to surveillance and edward snowden you put the price tag at 500 billion in your story. >> yeah, that's the price for a lot of the surveillance stuff since 9/11. not strictly limited to the war on terror. because again, it's not broken out. but there's a huge increase in that. and i was reading last night some of the other details i hadn't been aware of on this. i think it was in 2011 the obama administration was trying to set up a system where it could track everybody's cell phone movements. they have a lot of time on their hands if they want to do that. you get a lot of false positives. because the budgets have been
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almost unlimited they've been able to pull in all this money and they'd just like to stockpile information on the rest of us. but it's important to have a balance between the citizens and the government. and with the surveillance people have become more afraid to criticize the government and the government has got a lot more trump cards to play against the citizens. it makes a mockery of the self-government. >> back to calls. jim in grand forks, north dakota. republican. >> hey. how are you doing, james? >> good. >> caller: i agree and disagree. i voted for bush, and i made a mistake. to me i kind of like laugh -- try to laugh too to keep from crying. one of the things is i try to pretend sometimes i'm in an orwell novel because it seems like that we're told one thing and yet we -- deep down inside we remember the past. like me and you, i'm 52, i remember -- like i called one time before.
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jumping on an airplane was very innocent and fun. and why was that, james? i think you probably know why. because we were a homogenous people. and one of the most beneficial things about hom oj nooet, racial homogeneity is trust. we weren't a perfect country. we had a lot of problems between back and white. but we did not have this mistrust. of course the government does not trust us. that's what's going on here. and the government refuses to say who the enemy is. so we're all basically guilty. >> okay. jim bovard, do you have any thoughts? >> well, it's interesting. if you go to a place like holland, you've got a wide variety of nationalities there and yet the government isn't paranoid of everybody and treating them all like they're a terror suspect all the time. it's interesting. there are places -- it would be easy for the government to focus
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on real terrorist threats if they chose to do that. instead the government gets a lot more power by creating almost everybody as a threat. he was saying that folks are somewhat homogenous. my experience with tsa, tsa often doesn't like me, and i've wondered if tsa has a secret profile for scruffy rednecks or maybe ornery rednecks or people that just kind of radiate like this is a bunch of crap. so anyhow. >> crofton, maryland. mike. independent caller. >> caller: yeah. thank you so much for being on the program. really refreshing to hear. i wanted to ask you how much of a factor is like rhetoric in all of this? like phrases such as war on terror, for example. >> mike, we'll take that. >> yeah, it's an excellent question. the whole phrase war on terror. well, what is terror?
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terror is bad things done by non-governments. but if it's government killing somebody then it's not terrorism, it's public service. and it's almost that absurd. but if you look at some of the governments the u.s. supports like uzbekistan, which i guess a decade ago used some u.s. aid to just slaughter hundreds of demonstrators, and which is known for taking dissidents and boiling them alive in vats of oil, but they still get u.s. foreign aid. if you look at haiti, utterly corrupt. the u.s. gives money to governments that are horrendously persecuting their own people. but that's not terrorism. the sovereign immunity is a pandora's box and it's much more so with the war on terror. because the government can commit so many more atrocities. if you look at the court decisions on the torture cases from the bush administration, you've got judge after judge basically saying, well, it would be unseemly to hold the government liable for torture. or to hold any individual like ashcroft or cheney or others
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liable for torture. and you know, you can't have a free society if some people have a license to torture other people. >> let's get to john before the house gavels in here in new jersey. an independent caller. hi, john. >> caller: good morning and thank you for c-span and thanks for this terrific guest this morning. how about president how about president obama's selling about $100 billion worth of weapons to saudi arabia. and -- >> i don't know what happened there. sorry to you. pick that up. saudi arabia, selling weapons. >> yeah. thanks for the call. president obama has worked really hard to cover saudi arabia's -- the cover for saudi arabia. and sold them a lot of weapons. right now the u.s. has been providing support for a saudi war in yemen. the saudis have called a large number of yemen civilians.
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there is no good reason for the u.s. to be backing that up. the saudis have been the primary funders of the isis paris group and other extreme groups. there was a story in the "the new york times" about how the saudis helped bank roll extremist muslim clerics and encouraging those to go to the middle east for a jihad. there with a lot of good people in saudi arabia. i hope the government does better there. >> at this hearing this morning with the tsa administrator, what are you watching for from the administrator? >> i assume that, you know, tsa has been having hearings like this going back for more than a decade. i assume he'll just kind of, you know, make promises that they'll fix things, i fired this person and now we're supposed to
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pretend it's better. it won't get better. >> thank you very much. jim bovard. appreciate the conversation. >> thank you. this sunday night on q&a, betty koed talks about various events in senate history. >> i came in june of 1998 as a newly minted historian. my colleague said to me, it's going to be nice and quiet. we have an election coming up. you'll have lots of time to settle in and read and get comfortable in your job. within a few weeks the house decided to improech bill clinton and we got very busy very quickly and had to do a good deal of research on impeachment trials. the senate, the senate leaders at that time, trent lot and tom daschle really wanted to follow historical precedence as much as
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they could. >> sunday night at 8:00 eastern and pacific on c-span's q&a. ♪ madam secretary, reproudly give 72 of our delegate votes to the next president of the united states. ♪ ♪ our road to the white house coverage continues thursday from california at 4:00 p.m. eastern we'll take you live to ventura for a campaign rally with bernie
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sanders. then at 4:30 hillary clinton hold a rally in san jose. that will. live on c-span. the heads of washington, d.c.'s transit system and the federal transit administration were at a house hearing on the safety and reliability issues of washington, d.c.'s metro rail system. this is about two hours and 15 minutes. >> we'll g ahead and call the hearing to order. today we're going to discuss how the washington metro system is going to address safety and reliability issues. the issues important to all of the members here because when we have constituents come in, we want to make sure that when they come here to see the nation's capital that they should be able to move around the region safely and efficiently. the federal government invested
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billions in metro. metro has been plagued by long standing well-documented safety issues. and unfortunately investigations from the 1980s, from the 1990 as and today have a common frame, lack of communication and safety procedures. the focus of today is how the system is going to change. and i'm heartened to hear the metro's new general manager paul wiedefeld is going to talk about addressing the may not nebs bag log. the committee is going to watch to make sure that the talk turns into action. the fta is playing an important role at metro's temporary direct safety oversight entity. the fta is here today to share with us what it's going to do to promote safety and reliability at the metro. congress can't legislate communication and can't buy a safety cull her. they have to take action on responsibility of providing safe
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transit in our nation's capital and has to be held account to believe the federal, state and local taxpayers. i look forward to a frank discussion. i'm going to yelled the rest of him time to congresswoman comstock. >> thank you, chairman. first of all, last friday when metro's general manager paul wiedefeld is with us today terminated 20 managers, seven of whom were considered senior. i think we all hope this is just the beginning of a new error of accountability at met trop. and i know our washington delegation all voiced support for you in this action. as well as a number of your recent actions. we need to find new ways to run this rail. i join congressman delaney on changing the board structure on that front. we're pleased to see more board members are more focused on
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being experienced board members. on cost issues, according to fta and d.o.t. data, metro's rail costs run 120% to 150% higher than comparable transit systems. that is why i appreciate that mr. wiedefeld said at a recent event he offended with me that he's not asking for more money but is very much focused on addressing these issues and how we can restructure metro and address the issues and find way to do bet per. i'm concerned that there's a clause in the current labor agreement which states, the authority shall not contract out or subcontract any work normally performed by the employees within the bargaining unit defined in this agreement which would result in a layoff, transfer or demotion of these employees. does this prevent metro from having the kind of flexibility to realize the cost savings of contracting out track work and
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having the best people at the best price do this work. i know i've talked with a new general manager and fta about these issues. i'm met with businesses who are doing track work who tell us they can do this at lower costs than we're paying. and our current costs seem to run well ahead of the costs. i want to see how we're using new technologies that can document the track work being done, technologies that can save money and increase safety in transparency and already been used in other rail systems around the country. i hope we can explore that more. since i am chairman on the research and subcommittee in science, anywhere with can assist you on that. we want to find the best most cost efficient systems to save our taxpayers money. finally i want to address the report last night about a rape
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that occurred last month on metro in broad daylight, 10:00 in the morning. i hear this from people all of the time, the concerns about basic personal safety. i've had people approach me, my own stations having personal safety issues. this is something that's obviously unacceptable but also a concern that this wasn't immediately made known when this report was made and how are we doing all of these things. i appreciate -- we've talked about this new era of transparency as well as the culture of safety that we need and finding better ways to save money. but i appreciate that you've talked about putting more people on the front lines, in the stations and i think this very troubling incident is one of the many reasons we have to have more people out of the back office and on the front lines protecting our customers and constituents. i thank the chairman and our witnesses today. i thank the chairman very much for this important hearing and for his hard work on this effort. and i look forward to hearing from our witnesses today. thank you.
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>> thank you very much. i turn now to ranking member norton for her opening statement. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i have to begin by saying how much i appreciate this hearing. i think the fact that we're having this hearing today points how important ra ma da is, of course, to its immediate region but also the federal government itself. we're locked into this together and into their problems together and unwinding them together. i stress ramada uniqueness. no other metro system across the united states has to respond to three different jurisdictions. that is a built-in structural problem that neither ramada or those of us in the federal government have been able to
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help ramada somehow get over. it's there and it is one of the reasons for its complexities and those complexities play prominently into the changes that are needed. for example, just this morning cemetery fox announced that he was appointing a high level official from his office to help hasten the work of the three jurisdictions in setting up their own safety oversight mechanism. the new chairman, mr. wiedefeld has taken steps that have been acknowledged to be bold and necessary to be sure inconveniencing the public. here we have a dual, a dual -- we have issues that collide. we want the public to be safe
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and we want the public to be able to ride' get where they're going quickly. how ramada solves that during the process when they're overhauling the system is one of the issues that we want to face today. the basic challenge they'll meet this year after essentially rebuild much of the system is how to keep it that way. i want to hear more this morning about that. the word safety culture is thrown around. what does that mean? it is a really scary word. because it means that something is embedded in now the ramad operates that somehow has to be dug out. and the culture notion is it has not been defined.
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congress passed map 21 giving federal transit over public transportation. we reinforced that. and the f.a.s.t. act. and there are issues that pile on to fta that it would like to offload. i think the safe track plan of the general management will help to do that. some of metro's funds are being held up because inexcusably, on top of its other issues, it has a financial crisis in how it dealt with applying for the federal grants. this is something that has to be worked out and worked out very quickly. it works that ramada has taken the necessary actions but that the federal transit administration has not responded
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appropriately. so if ramada does something right, we expect the federal agency to respond in kind. mr. chairman, i'm very anxious to hear the testimony. i appreciate that the witnesses have prepared thoughtful testimony today and i think you see how much today's hearing means to the region that you see three members of the region here to testify. i thank them for coming as well. i yield back, sir. >> thank you very much. i now turn to the chairman of the full committee, bill schuster. >> thank you. we've got the entire house delegation that represents the area which we can tell it's an important issue to them. but it's really an important issue to all of us. millions of people come to washington, d.c. every year from around -- our fellow citizens to people from around the world. and this transit system really
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ought to be the crown jewel of the transit systems around the country. in fact, they get more money per capita than any other system in the country but they also spend more money than any other system in the country. we've got to bring those things into alignment. this needs to be a system, safety has to be paramount. and for over 50 years, as mentioned, the metro system has benefitted by federal support. this is important to the entire nation that we get this right. in addition to the monies that the federal government gives to the metro system, also 40% of the metro's rush hour required, federal employees are provided a subsidy to ride the system. the safety of the people that we work with every day and depend on us to help operate the government depend on this system being a safe and reliable
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system. the safety reliability record has deteriorated. it's not switched its responsibility from building a system to operating and maintaining a system. what it takes, i believe, is a cultural change at metro. and i'm pleased that the new ceo i think is doing just that. what the federal transit administration is temporarily taken over that authority and the administrator flowers is here to talk about that. that oversight needed to be done because metro hasn't been able to do it appropriately. secretary fox has given one year to the ramada, virginia, maryland and d.c. to step up to the plate and do what's necessary. and last year congress passed the f.a.s.t. act. we strengthened the fta's safely oversight and provided them with more federal dollars that the citizens of america contributing to the system.
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as i said, this should be the crown jewel of the system and it's not. and we deserve to have that. the new ceo, paul wiedefeld is here. and his record as a manager of making things run in the proper way, he's got the right resume for it and i think his strong statements in just his first year really has woken folks up to the need for strong management, for a cultural change at this transit system. so again, i welcome my colleagues here. i look forward to hearing from them and also from mr. wiedefeld and ms. flowers on this issue. thank you very much. yield back. >> now turn to ranking member da faz yo. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's sad that we are here today under these circumstances. there's certainly management issues and i'll get into that in a moment. let's get to the bottom line here. congress has neglected to make sufficient investments in
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infrastructure. everywhere in the country cities are struggling between pressure to build out new transit and new options, and that's certainly going on here in what is arguably the most congested traffic region in the united states of america and then maintaining their legacy systems. and congress hasn't been willing to be an equal partner. $84 billion backlog nationally to bring transit up to a state of good repair. yeah, the f.a.s.t. is going to give us a little more money. that's good. but with the amount of money there, we're never going to get a state of good repair. never. it's going to continue -- we're just about treading water. and right now d.o.t. says the average annual level required to eliminate the backlog is $18.5 billion a year. and well, we're putting up 10.
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uh-oh. that doesn't sound too good, does it? it's pretty embarrassing when in what's called the capital of the free world, the greatest country on earth, we're killing people on a transit system with a combination of budgetary pressures. what about the money? we cannot ignore the need for additional investment. now when the so-called american recovery act passed, which i voted against because 4% of that $800 billion went into infrastructure investment, 4%. city like chicago just pulled projects off the shelf. they had the money committed in 30 days. they could have spent 10, 20 times as much money on projects sitting on the shelf waiting to happen that are critical for the safety and security of their
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riders. and obviously the efficiency of the system. so we cannot ignore the thousand-pound gorilla in the room. we aren't putting up the money we need to be a good partner. we only partner 50% and we don't pay -- we don't help with operations. and you know, we're just walking away from that. so that's why we're here today. so let's not just say this was a management issue or oh gee, they spend more money or they're less efficient. yeah, those are all issues. this is not a unique circumstance. what is happening here in washington, d.c. is getting attention. but there's -- that's happening in every major legacy system across the country today an it's happening in cities that want to give their people new transit options and have to choose between running a bus with a billion miles on it that's breaking down every day, maybe the brakes don't work so well and giving people the option to
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get them out of congestion. we shouldn't have to make those choices. the country, the united states of america can afford to do both, afford to partner and rebuild and maintain and build out the new options. it's going to take a new attitude here in congress. i've offered many ways to help increase transit funding. they've all been rejected. we weren't allowed to vote on one single option, one amendment when they did the f.a.s.t. track. we pretended. in fact we took money from the tsa to help pay for the bill and now people are standing in line at the airports. wow. we're going to keep shuffling stuff around until nothing works in this country anymore. thank you, mr. chairman. i look forward to the hearing. >> today we have two panels. and i want to welcome our first panel. the honorable sven any hoyer, gerald conley and the honorable
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john delaney representing the sixth district 0 maryland. i'd ask that our witness's full statements be included in the record. and with that objection that is so ordered. and with that we'll start with mr. hoyer. thank you for being here. >> chairman graves and ranking remember defazio. i want to associate myself with the remarks from the gentleman from mr. p pennsylvania, mr. schuster. clearly this was the crown jewel. clearly nobody would be calling it the crown jewel today and clearly it must be the crow jewel for all of the reasons that the chairman mentioned. we used to call this america's subway. millions of constituents in this room use this system. i appreciate the opportunity to share my input regarding the transit authority and the need for robust investment and high safety standard. the safety and reliability of the metro is of krit kol pornts,
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not only to washington, d.c. and its surrounding communities. it's also critical to the smooth functioning of the federal government and national defense and homeland security. both civilian and military rely on the metro to get do their offices and to their duty stations. my district is over to 62,000 federal employees, many who serve in military jobs located here. many of them depend on metro to get to work each day to serve the american people. metro is a crucial tool for the millions of americans and foreign visitors who come to our nation's capital each year. that is the premise which underlines our federal focus. i join the rest of the delegation last wednesday for a meeting with paul wiedefeld, metro's new general manager of whom many of you have spoken and spoken positively. i think that appropriately as
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well. to discuss the new safe track plan which aims to address maintenance and rehabilitation to improve safety. however we spoke on a more broad basis than simply the fast track -- or the safe track program. the recent incidents for fire and day long shut down for inspections have brought to light a number of critical repairs that must be done to ensure that the required are always safe when using the metro system. in some ways these problems with the result of past failure to invest adequately in long term maintenance and upgrades. as the new 7,000 series cars are brought into the fleet, we need to make sure that the tracks and tunnels that these new modern cars run on are up to date as well. metro safety and reliability is
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a critical concern for residents of maryland's fifth district which is home to communities served by all of metro's lines. i am disappointed, as i know many are, that metro needs to implement the safe track plan in the first place. but it is necessary. we shouldn't be in a situation, however, where entire lines need to be shut down for maintenance and where the predictability and reliability of train schedules has been undermined. but i'm very impressed with mr. wiedefeld's leadership and his determination to take the steps necessary to put metro back on course to be a system that all in our region and in our country can be proud of. we have a ways to go before we can get to that point. but it is encouraging that the leadership is fully committed to putting passenger safety first and acting to improve safety in the near and in the long term.
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now, mr. chairman, i hope the shub committee and the full committee will support investments in metro's safety and service so that safe track plan will be as successful as possible as quickly as possible. congress has a responsibility to make sure that the metro system which we call america's subway can well serve those and serve american citizens as well. i want to thank ranking member eleanor holmes norton for her entiring advocacy on behalf of metro and all those who ride it. mr. chairman, i want to ensure you and mr. schuster and ms. norton and mr. defazio that the washington metropolitan delegation is united to ensure working with you that america's subway is a subway system second to none.
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thank you very much. >> thank you, congressman hoyer. next is congressman connelly. >> chairman graves, chairman schuster, thank you for having us here today. i'm delighted to join with my colleagues, mr. hoyer and mr. delaney. i serve as the ranking member of the government operations subcommittee of the oversight government reform committee which held it own hearings on the metro. the challenges facing metro are significant and i welcome collaboration between our two committees to ensure robust oversight over the management of federal dollars and the adherence to federal safety standards. i spent the last 22 years working at metro, first as a chairman where i made appointment to the board and approved the local operating subsidy. for the past eight years i've
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worked with your and your colleague to secure the $150 million annual commitment for metro safety improvements which is matched dlarts for dollar by d.c., virginia an maryland. no one is more disheartened than i am. i want to start by commending this committee for your efforts through map 21 and then the f.a.s.t. to create a comprehensive framework of safety standards for metro and all of the nation's transit system. as the ft as and ntsb has highlighted again and again, the tri-state oversight committee is a paper tiger without the proper resources and tools to provide effective oversight. our partners are working together to stand up a new metro safety commission next year that will meet and enforce the new federal standards. until then secretary fox acting
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under new norts in the f.a.s.t. has appointed fta. i respectfully disagreed to that action, deferring instead to the ntsb's recommendation, i share the committee's ultimate goal for addressing the shocking lack of safety culture within metro. to that end i welcome an opportunity to work with you to explore further ekts panneding the fta's authorities to bretter match the oversight and the enforcement authorities to address the ntsb's safety recommendations. in fact metro's new general manager indicated he's voluntarily directing his team the explore what fra standard they can apply on their own. regardless of what style of transit commuters are using, they deserve to know they are being protected by effective and enforceable federal standards.
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what we're witnessing today with metro is to result of a deck katsds long march into med yok kraty and dysfunction. arcing and smoke in the tunnels have become all too frequent and are scaring riders away. recent arcing incidents led the general manager to take the step of shuttering the entire system for 24 hours in march. and earlier this month the two stations serving capitol hill were closed during the evening rush hour. mr. wiedefeld recently released an aggressive proposal to single track and shut down portions of metro lines for days at a time in order to condense three years worth of deferred maintenance, three years into one year. this will present significant
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and sustained challenges to riders in the federal government. federal employees account for 40% of all metro riders. so we have called on opm and all federal agencies to push flexible work schedules during this time. of course metro cannot focus only on track and infrastructure repairs. a complete system wide change in culture is necessary. safety and personnel actions already taken by by wiedefeld should serve as a shot across the bow that indifference to safety and customer service will no longer be tolerated. these are not problems that can be fixed overnight. metro and its partners face a monumental task and the federal government must be a full fundi funding partner in this effort. i look forward to expanding our
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commitment. the federal government does not pay any shares of subsidies. we must finally create a designated source of reeve knew for funding metro. these are critical to metro's future success. metro has been our single greatest regional achievement and in many ways or single biggest disappointment. we can restore america's subway to the place of prominence it once held and setting the standard for other transits across the nation. thank you. >> thank you, mr. connelly. next is representative john delaney. thanks for being here. >> thank you. i want to thank the chair and the ranking member and all of my colleagues for giving me this opportunity to discuss metro with you today. it's very important to my constituents, many of which use the system on a daily basis. it's also important as we know
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to everyone who lives in the national capital region and to all of the visitors of the nation's capital. clearly metro is an organization in crisis with significant deficiencies around safety, around reliability, around customer service and around financial management. and if you diagnose the problems with metro, you realize there are several causes. the first ranking member norton discussed, which is metro effectively reports to four governing jurisdictions, d.c., maryland, virginia and the federal government. this four-headed monster makes it very difficult for metro to get the funding and oversight that would be optimal for an organization of its scale. secondly, as ranking member defazio talk and, by any measure metro has been underfunded and it's lacked a reliable source of funding which has created greater uncertainty. and finally it's clearly been mismanaged, perhaps for several decades.
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when you look back at management decision bs, clearly poor decisions were made. i like you want to exclude the current general manager from that criticism because i share the view that he's off to a good start. but i think there's another issue that needs to be considered when you talk about what's going on with metro. and this gets to chairman schuster's comments about culture, which is metro has clearly had a deficient couple chur as it relates to its priorities. and i think that raises a governance question. in other words, what's hang in terms of the board, the board of directors in the governance and management of metro. as someone who spent my career in the private sector charg two publicly trade company and being on the board of highly performing nonprofits, i think governance really matters because a good board sets the correct mission, sets the correct strategic goals. the most important responsibility is to recruit management, to hold them accountable. if they're not living up to the goals, make management changes
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and to secure the funding that the enterprise needs. and the way they secure the funding is by making people believe that they're actually running the place right. and i think this is a significant question with metro. right now metro has a 16-person board. four of those members are appointed by relevant jurisdiction and currently there are no standards for who those members can be. the chairman i think you said you can't legislate certain thing. one thing you can't legislate is good governance but you can make sure we have the best people possible sitting around the table making the decisions, instead of people who are given a board spot because they raised a lot of money for their elected officer. what i've tried to do is put forth a framework where the jurisdictions will be required as part of their appointment process to certify that the members that they're appointing are experts in either finance,
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in management, in transit or in safety. i think this will put people with more qualifications and more experience around the board table at metro. and i think it will encourage maybe longer term thinking. because my sense is these people will probably have more experience in board governance matters and they won't think about their own unique interest in the particular jurisdictions they represent. but spend more time thinking about the good of the whole enterprise, which is what a real fiduciary should do. so i think to talk about specific things we can do to talk about the culture, in addition to getting new funding, supporting the new management changes, i think there are important things we can do around governance. i applaud secretary fox taking a step in this direction. we recently changed all of ted federal appointee to the board and put up four people who
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clearly have expertise in safety. we would also like to see some people sitting around the table who have finance experience, management experience and transit experience. get real experts thinking long term, and holding them accountab accountable. i think over time that can change the culture of metro. i appreciate the opportunity to be here with you. >> with that i'll dismiss the first panel and we'll bring the second panel up. thank you very much. >> mr. chairman, while the second panel is coming up, i would like to ask that the statement of representative chris van hollen, a member represents a jurisdiction in the region be admitted to the record. and i would like to ask unanimous consent to correct the
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record and have a chart that shows federal funding for ramada as opposed to other agencies. ramada receives 19% of its budget from federal contributions, 17% is the industry average on fares. ramada's fares cover 32.6% of its budget where the industry average is 23.3%. and i ask that this chart be entered into the record as well. >> without objection. so ordered. i would like to take the opportunity to welcome the second panel. we have paul wiedefeld, chaarol
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flowers, and tim lovain. with that i would ask unanimous consent that our witnesses' full statements be included in the record. without objection that is so ordered. and since the written statements are going to be included in the record, try to limit your comments to five minutes. with that, mr. wiedefeld, we'll start with you. >> good morning chairman graves and ranking member norton and members of the subcommittee. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i'm paul wiedefeld. what i thought i would do is just summarize very quickly what my priority have been since i joined november 30th for the agency. talk about what we're up against and what i'm trying to do about it and wrap up with concluding remarks. my priorities are obviously safety, fiscal management. so what we're up against, i think it's important just to step back and think about the physical nature of what we're up
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against before we get into the management issues. i think we have to recognize that this is a two-track railroad system which presents a lot of challenges for maintenan maintenance. you add on top of that decades of delayed maintenance and underfunding, that's created a lot of the issues that we're dealing with. on top of that is an aging fleet. the cars, the trains themselves. that's on the rail side. it's also important to recognize that metro is more than just rail. it's also a very major bus system. we do almost 600,000 people a day on the bus system alone. we have a much better fleet but we have basic infrastructure systems that need to be fixed. particularly in garages. in terms of the agency what i found is what i've heard echoed here, a lack of safety and service culture in the organization. that permeates throughout the
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entire organization. there's been a lack of accountability on the management, on the front line people and also a lack of strong management systems put in place. there's been a lack of sustainability and predicting source over the decades for the system. we're facing ridership decline. some of that is elf inflected by the performance levels we've provided but also the change in the demographics. metro access is increasing in demand. 's one of our most expensive services and we need to think about how we provide that service as well. crime as was mentioned is a concern for all transit agencies. unfortunately we've had terrible and visible incidents on our system recently, both 0 the passengers and some of our employees. always in the back and front of my mind is terrorism and we have to make sure we're doing everything in our part to be prepared for anything that may occur there. in march i released a customer
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accountability report where basically there are 60 action items that we've outlined what we're doing to increase the overall performance and customer service portion of what we do. i did release the rail maintenance plan called safe track. basically the current approach is not working. we need a transparent process how we good about that upgrading of the tracks. i've been working with our manufacturer of the cars of the train sets which is kawasaki. we now have 134 in prop, 120 in service. 748 of those ordered and as soon as we get those to the point where i'm comfortable that we've got what we paid for, we and increase the delivery of the cars. the bus fleet is maintained well so we'll continue if that area. on the metro access we're looking at brokering some outside third party vendors to provide better service there.
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in terms of safety and service culture, that starts with me driving home that that is the most important thing that we do. recently i've come out with a number of things to reinforce that. safety trumps all. we have our track inspectors and people that are the ability to understand the system can shut down the system at any time if they see something they want to get out and look at, which is not the case in the past. we have a new chief safety officer which i just brought in earlier this month. we're looking at the police are doing a metro, basically constantly metro stat where we monitor the system every day, literally minute by minute to apply the resources and we're adding new resources there. the good news is that the system other the years, last 40 years has driven the economic development and our culture here. and the business communities behind it, elected officials are
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behind it and the riders are behind it. my job is to get iter performing better and then we'll deal with the other issues. my priorities are is safety, service life and the fiscal management and that will continue to be my focus in the near term. with that i'll be glad to take any questions. >> thank you very much. ms. flowers? >> thank you chairman graves, ranking member norton, chairman schuster, members of the subcommittee. thank you for inviting me to report on the transit authority. together safety and reliability come price the minimum we should expect from public transportation. and yet on both counts ramada has fallen short. in recent years the result has been not only delay and disruption but also injury and fatality. our goal at fta is to make sure that they restore safety and reliability for its riders and
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employees. we're conducting underground inspections, leading accident investigations and directing safety improvements that must be made. to do this we're exercising the authority congress provided our agency. congress fist authorized fta to oversee the public transportation systems. over the course of the past four years we have worked with transit industry stakeholder to develop regulations that would be effective, enforceable and adaptable, the opposite of one size fits all. where state safety oversight agencies do not exist or where they fail, congress gave fta is statutory authority to step in. and that where he is we are today in the d.c. met thero are. fta's direct oversight of ramada is temporary.
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virginia, maryland and the district of columbia must set up an agency that is fully functioning. nonetheless, since fta assumed oversight, we've been able to work with ramada to get results. they have made steady progress in addressing the findings of our initial safety management inspection lasting year and responded to troublingdy feshcys we discovered at the rail operations control center. although our investigation of this incident -- sorry. i lost a page. sorry. as a result of the findings from fta in april, three key areas, red signal overrun, track integrity and vehicle securement, some track was taken out of service immediately to make repairs and hundreds of defects have been fixed. in addition to identifying and
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ordering the correction of safety problems, we've also conducted a review of ramada's grant applications to ensure that the federal funds are being used to address the recommendations. but most troubling however is the fact that they've failed to create an enduring culture of safety. although this problem goes much further back, i would like to talk about a recent example. on may 5th, a third rail understand later exploded alongside the platform at the federal center southwest station. although our investigation of this incident is ongoing, our preliminary information shows that ramada's response was slow and inadequate. operational convenience was clearly prioritized above safety. not only did they fail to notify fta a timely manner, they waited for hours for access of the
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track after service was resumed. it was only later in the day when another fire occurred in the same area that the track was taken out of service and the problem was thoroughly addressed. such errors are simply unacceptable. safety must come first before service. as a result, we issued a safety directive requiring ramada to take immediate action to mitt gate fire and smoke risks, improve emergency planning and preparedness and conduct a safety standdown. we've verified that ramada has taken steps to address these actions and paul wiedefeld has been responsive to our safety concerns. but the agency still has a difficult task ahead. beyond the need for critical investment in infrainfrastructu every one of their employees
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must make a personal commitment to safety. we're working to help restore metrorail's safety and reliability. thank you. >> ms. flowers. next we'll hear from mr. lovain. >> i'm tim lovain chair of the board at the metropolitan council of governments. the transportation planning ford is the federally designated metropolitan planning organization for the national capital region responsible for a continuing, comprehensive and cooperative planning process in this area that includes 22 jurisdictions and over 5 million residents. i would like to thank chairman graves and ranking member norton for the opportunity to appear before you today. i've submitted more detailed testimony so in any oral remarks i'll emphasis three things. first how critical metro is to
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our nation, second its importance to this region's largest employer and finally the efforts under way to help metro improve safety and service reliability and be the world class system the nation deserves. last year, two million jobs, more than half a million zwrobs are located within a half a mile radius of the station and bus stops. 77 of the bus stops are in activity centers. 86% of this region's new office construction is occurring within one quarter mile of metrorail stations. metro helps to tie the multistate region together. it will shape few chr patterns, helping our region accommodate more jobs and people other the next 30 years. one in five riders come from
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zero car households. for example, metro provided 1.1 million rail trips on inauguration day in 2009. as noted, the federal workforce represents 33% of the commuters and 40% of this region's federal workforce use the metrorail system. 315 buildings with federal officings are within one half mile of the sayings. enat's gsa policy to plo kate future office space near metro. it is very important that this federal funding program be retained as it is critical to undertaking and completing needed safety and state of good repair work. metro's importance is magnified by the fact that washington,
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d.c. is the most important national capital in the world. our 19 million annual visitors to the region come from around the country and around the world. their impressions of the d.c. region and our nation as a hole are shaped in prt by their experience on the metro system. when metrorail opened 40 years ago it gained a reputation as a world class system and we need to restore the reputation. we certainly acknowledge that metro is facing significant challenges that characterize a world class system. this issue has the full attention and commitment of the state and local government levels within the region and we're pleased that the federal transit administration has been an active partner. the work is being tackled on many fronts. fta is providing the lead working with the states. on the management front, we're pleased that paul widefield has
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taken action. there's more work to be down and our region has come together to work on it. one additional and important resource that is needed to address the safety and reliability challenges, beyond mr. widefieedefelwiedefeld's po reform. we do not have a dedicated source of funding for his operations. i believe that lack of dedicated funding contributed to metro's maintenance short falls. that's why region noll leaders are coordinating through the greater washington board of trait to explore how we can work together to provide long term predictable sustainable funding support. and we look forward to continued and hopefully increased financial support from the federal government as well. i am confident that this region and the federal government can continue our partnership and rise up to address metro's challenges. working together we can make
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metro a regional and national asset for decades to come. thank you. >> thank you very much. we'll move into questions. and my first question is for mr. wiedefeld. ntsb investigations of different ramada incidents from 1982 all the way up to last year have unfortunately had very similar findings. it's come down to improper training, inadequate emergency response by the operations control staff which was pointed out by ms. flowers. why didn't metro -- two questions here. why didn't metro provide better training and staffing for emergency preparedness and the second question is, what have you changed at the rail operations control center to make sure that this doesn't repeat itself? >> i can't speak to the history of what training they did. i know what we're doing. one of the things i have done, i did replace the head of the
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operations center in april. i have a new head there. we have added additional staff there. a more robust training program that came out of some of the incidents in the past. we've staffed up. we have a fire liaison for instance now were 24/7. when i got here it was 16 hours out of the day. we now have him for 24 hours. we want the communication. fta is monitoring the activities daily at the operations center to make sure that the proper procedures are being followed. we're doing basically we started spot testing of our controllers to make sure they're part of exercises and in effect we throw curve balls at them during those exercises. it's an effort that we have to continue to work on but we're moving in that direction. >> i have a question for ms.
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flowers, too, which the committee is concerned about the safety and reliability for sure. but we're also concerned about the need for all of the transit agencies all across the countrys as to their efficiency and you know, we want them to be as productive as possible with the federal resources that they're receiving. my question is, what's the fta doing to ensure that its transit agency recipients are most efficiently using the limited resources, you know, that they are receiving and are you considering contracting out work through competitive bid, whenever that is appropriate? ms. flowers. for the fta. >> okay. chairman graves we are -- we are program management oversight as well as grant management oversight of our grantees.
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and we do contract out some of that work so that we can, on a national basis, be able to monitor our over 800 grantees. >> how about the work -- so you monitor -- or you contract out the work to monitor them? >> yes. and we perform trienial audits. >> how about when it comes to the work, you know, whether that's maintenance work or other things too, putting that out for competitive bid. do you ever encourage that in. >> at the grantee level they make decisions under procurement. but we do ask them to be effective in the use of our funds. i know that ms. comstock that the option of looking at
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contracting out would be something that she would encourage. that our, you know, agencies that do contract out to try to ensure that they effectively use our funds. >> thank you. and i have some more questions but i'm going to turn to ms. norton for her opening questions. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. ms. flowers, i want to thank all of you at fta for the new financial discipline you are apparently importing into metro. quiet as it's kept, metro's or ramada's financial record keeping mirrors or has mirrored the much more widely understood and known issues of safety, particularly financial accountability, a system that was in disarray.
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that directly affects safety, of course. whereas most of the money that ramada is getting is for safety. if you look behind some of the criticism ramada has received within we're told that $783 million of federal transit funding for ramada is going unspent. so everyone assumes that ramada is sitting on money and that ramada a really ineffective by not spending money it already has. how could it want more money. but if you look behind these numbers, ms. flowers, you find that $300 million of it is obligated for safety projects and for new cars, and the remaining amount is waiting reimbursement through fta. now according to the information
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we've been given from fta, in order to bring itself into the compliance it solely needed -- and again i thank you for the discipline that apparently is working. ramada has come mind with all 45 recommendations of fta, submitted the required 65 corrective action plans, is working with fta on a testing and validation planned, close five of the required testing and validation items and have committed 1 is to fta for review of the remaining four will be done at a later date and will be submitted on time. ms. flowers, a recent inspector general report of fta criticized
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fta for not having consistent policies when it in fact undertakes a very serious matter, which is to withhold federal funds, which in this case means that the three jurisdictions get to pay. this report was entitled fta monitored grantees' corrective actions but lacks policy and guidance to oversee grantees with restricted access to federal funds. and it found, for example, with respect to ramada, here i'm quoting, that ramada was required to mail hard copies of the invoice imagins to a contra north carolina to review which is more time and resource intensive than other processes.
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so my question, given the need for every penny ramada can get, my question to you is, can you specifically identify at what point ramada will be able to return to normal restrictions as procedures for accessing federal funds that the congress appropriated to it, rather than drawing down funds by hand which can take anywhere from ten days to two weeks for the money to get to ramada for safety and other matters. >> we are on site at ramada and we were there yesterday to work on a plan, we call a snapshot
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plan to try to expedite the issues you're talking about. we're also addresses the issues of trying to expedite the drawdowns of ramada. >> if they've complied in this way, what is left to be done, so we can understand what is outstanding? >> we're in the final steps of the verification process. so. >> so do you expect in a few months, do you expect by the end of the year? when do you expect ramada will be able to access its funds in the normal fashion rather than by hand? >> in this last step, if we see that the documentation is verified, we should be able to, i think, have a targeted lifting
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of restricted drawdown in certain areas. there's some of the older stuff that i believe that will still be there. but we can work with them in terms of addressing targeted and focused areas to lift that dropdown. >> but you don't have a time line of when you might be able to accomplish -- the burden is on you. they've done what you've asked them to do. the reason i'm pressing you on the question is if they've done all that you've asked them to do, the burden shifts by when do you think ramada will be accountable enough so that these drawdowns will no longer be necessary? >> we're verifying that documentation and i expect that in the next few week we will have completed this step. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. i now recognize chairman schuster for five minutes. >> first, i appreciate the
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witnesses being here today to ted. a really important issue. i also want to say i think congressman delaney's testimony was spot on. i that that one of the things he said paramount in all of this if you want to attract the dollars to a corporation, an ororganization of any kind, you have to demonstrate that you deploy those dollars efficiently to get things done. and i think that's something that before this committee or this congress says we're going to give more money to the metro, we've got to see it demonstrated and i don't think it's been done over the last several years or couple decades that they've employed the dollars in the most efficient way. that requires a cultural change at the agency, which i think the new ceo mr. wiedefeld has set the standard. he said some tough things, any theeded to and any needs to take tough action. my question is to managing the
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employees. and i think if you're going to shake up a culture at an organization -- and i spent 20 years of my life in business and had the unfortunate circumstance to have to terminate people. when i thought about this question it brought me back to one of the first hearings i had in this room 15 years ago with the epa associate administrator for hr. the previous congress before i was here, they passed a law saying that the federal employees must follow the guidelines congress sets in legislation. so my question to the epa administrator was, how many people in the last year out of 17,000, how many people did you prior? took him a couple of whispers back and forth to tell me they fired one person. terminating and firing people are unpleasant. but people don't do the job, they're doing stuff unsafe, they're negligent, illegal, you need to terminate them. so my question to mr. wiedefeld, do you have the tools necessary -- i know you're
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coming up to a contract negotiation soon. do you have the tools necessary if you have a mechanic, and if a mechanic was negligent or illegal or unsafe, try to work with him but eventually sometimes unfortunately you have to terminate. do you have those tools available to you that you're able to say to people that aren't doing the job we've got to let you go, or they locked in and protected like so many of these government agencies that you can't do anything about it. my example is the epa is perfect. 17,000 people. they terminated one person. that doesn't make sense. >> i'll come at it from two levels, the management side and the front line employee. in terms of the management, three weeks ago i sent a letter out to -- i have roughly 650 at-will managers. those are frontally supervisors and superintendents. i sent out a letter to all of them, you know, explaining what
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my priorities are and my management style. but more important i had them sign a piece of paper that recognized they were at will. shortly after they held a meeting with all 650 of them. first time in the history of the agency where we did that. i explained what we're doing and that accountability is the most important thing they have to do besides safety and customer service. shortly after that i terminated a number of managers recently and i have currently a review of the entire organization in terms of whether there's redundancies or other times positions that haven't been dealt with. that's ongoing. i'll continue to manage that. that's where i have a little clear capabilities. on the front line side i have the ability to let people go. we have processes for that. it depends on the type of discretion. if a skatation manager is in a
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uniform, they get a couple of dings. to basically any major incident i can terminate immediately. that does not mean they don't have the right to grieve, and we do through the whole process. that is set up in the contract and that eventually can get to an ash ar ba tore. and we do that on a regular basis both on labor and management. >> i appreciate hearing that from you. again, we've got to make sure that safety is paramount. the people that ride this, whether they're from the area, whether they're from other parts of the united states or around the world, they deserve to have a receive system. and if somebody is working for the metro that isn't, we need to make sure that safety is paramount and we can't tolerate
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people not doing their jobs. i wish you well and so far have been improeszed with your management style so far. thank you for being here today. >> and i now recognize ranking member da faz yo for five minutes. >> thank you, madam chair. ms. flowers, i realize you're briefly on the job.
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