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    Federal Agency: "National Railroad Passenger Corporation"

    2 publications with a total of 9 open recommendations
    Director: Susan Fleming
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that planned improvements to Amtrak's routes are implemented and their outcomes can be evaluated, the President of Amtrak should prioritize the adoption of Amtrak's strategic management system in all of Amtrak's remaining lines of business and functional departments.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials indicated that Amtrak was rolling-out its strategic management system in several departments and plans were in place to extend the roll out over time. According to Amtrak officials, senior management meets monthly to discuss progress being made in the company's various strategic initiatives, however the officials noted that full implementation of the strategic management system would take time, and did not provide an estimated completion date. We will continue to monitor Amtrak's progress in adopting the strategic management system across its various business lines and functional departments.
    Recommendation: To ensure that planned improvements to Amtrak's routes are implemented and their outcomes can be evaluated, the President of Amtrak should externally report how Amtrak's initiatives meet the goals established under the Amtrak's strategic management system.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. Officials reported that much of Amtrak's business takes place in an environment that is increasingly competitive and prefers to keep its deliberation on these initiatives confidential. As we reported in January 2016, while we agree that there is value to keeping business proprietary information and deliberations confidential, Amtrak should be able to externally report progress without disclosing confidential deliberations or information to show how its initiatives are meeting the goals established under its strategic management system. Without this reporting, it is difficult for the company to demonstrate to Congress and other stakeholders how Amtrak is improving its financial and operating performance, and whether it is making the most efficient use of federal funds. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor any steps taken by Amtrak to report outcomes of initiatives taken under Amtrak's strategic management system.
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to make funding decisions, the President of Amtrak should make the format of its monthly performance reports and its 5-year financial plan consistent to show all of Amtrak's revenues and expenses by major function for each line of business.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. According to Amtrak, the 5-year financial plan and monthly performance reports serve different purposes and their utility would be lost if it attempted to "standardize" them. As we reported in January 2016, we continue to believe that it is important to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to use in making funding decisions. The intent of our recommendation is that Amtrak provide a mechanism to show how its financial results in its monthly performance reports are comparable to the financial targets by line of business that are in its 5-year financial plan. Because Amtrak has not taken action to implement this recommendation, the inconsistency between the two reports makes it difficult to compare Amtrak's past results with its future forecasts. As a result, Congress and the states lack a clear view into the financial performance of the company that they help fund. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor steps taken by Amtrak to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting.
    Recommendation: To improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting and to provide Congress with accurate information to make funding decisions, the President of Amtrak should ensure that Amtrak's depreciation expenses are appropriately allocated to its lines of business once the underlying capital asset data are determined reliable.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Amtrak officials confirmed that Amtrak disagrees with this recommendation and has not taken action to implement it. According to Amtrak, reporting of depreciation costs is of limited use for management accounting for several reasons, including that many of Amtrak's key assets, such as bridges and tunnels on the Northeast Corridor are fully depreciated, and that Amtrak's financial system includes a synthetic capital charge, which serves as a proxy for depreciation and is currently allocated across routes. As we reported in January 2016, we agree that given the long-lived nature of Amtrak's capital assets, depreciation calculated for financial reporting purposes may not provide an appropriate measure of the economic costs of using the related assets. While Amtrak may be capturing depreciation or economic costs through its synthetic capital charge (which serves as a proxy for depreciation and which Amtrak does not publicly report), as we also mention in this report, Amtrak may be misstating its line-of-business financial results by not allocating depreciation costs to its lines of business. There are a number of methods or models used to calculate depreciation or economic costs. However, regardless of the method used, it is important that the data used to calculate depreciation or the economic costs of using long-lived assets--historical cost, useful life, residual value--are complete, accurate, and timely. Thus, we continue to believe that our recommendation is valid and that Amtrak should fully implement it. We will continue to monitor steps taken by Amtrak to improve the consistency and completeness of Amtrak's financial reporting.
    Recommendation: To help Congress in assessing Amtrak's need for federal assistance for state-supported routes and to help Amtrak to develop strategies to reduce the costs of its services, the President of Amtrak should delineate the specific costs and activities for state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government and communicate this information to Congress, such as in Amtrak's annual budget request.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: In March 2017, Amtrak provided GAO with financial reports that Amtrak had submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration that provide details of the revenues, costs, state payments, and operating losses for each of the state-supported routes for fiscal year 2016. Although these reports include some information on the costs of state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government, Amtrak has not provided this specific information to Congress to help with assessing Amtrak's need for federal assistance for these routes, as GAO recommended. Amtrak officials told us that the company plans to report to Congress information on the expected revenues and costs for state-supported routes in the Five Year Business Line Plans required by the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act. According to Amtrak officials, they plan to submit the Five Year Business Line Plans to Congress on June 2, 2017. GAO will review those plans when published and continue to monitor Amtrak's efforts to delineate and report to Congress the specific costs and activities for state-supported routes that are covered by the federal government.
    Director: Fleming, Susan A
    Phone: 2025128984

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should perform a comprehensive risk assessment of financial reporting processes that support preparation of monthly performance reports and the RPI, to include determining areas of vulnerability, implementing appropriate compensating and mitigating internal controls, and ongoing monitoring to ensure compliance.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: GAO is continuing to work with Amtrak to obtain information on the status of this recommendation and will update provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should document policies and procedures related to controlling the information in the monthly performance reports, including the RPI. The policies and procedures should cover how expenses are allocated to Amtrak's routes, as well as specific guidance on documenting the justification and authorization of changes made to allocation methods.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about the status of this recommendation and will provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To improve Amtrak's efforts in addressing financial management challenges and better support management decision making, the president of Amtrak should develop a comprehensive action plan for immediately implementing preventive controls to enhance the reliability of financial data and address the reportable condition over accounting for capital assets in the most recent reports and letters of comment from the independent public accountant.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about this recommendation and will provide updates as available.
    Recommendation: To ensure that Amtrak can better meet the challenge of increasing its efficiency and reducing its operating costs, the president of Amtrak should establish efficiency and unit cost measures with clear inputs to benchmark individual asset and corporate productivity, which will demonstrate efficient use of Amtrak's resources.

    Agency: National Railroad Passenger Corporation
    Status: Open

    Comments: We will continue to work with Amtrak to obtain information about the status of this recommendation and will provide updates as available.