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Meeting Minutes Dec 9, 2010

A meeting of the Permanent Citizens Advisory Committee (PCAC) to the MTA was convened at 12:00 noon on December 9, 2010, in the 5th floor Board room, at MTA Headquarters, 347 Madison Avenue, New York City.  The following members were present:

• Andrew Albert
• Christopher Greif
• James F. Blair
• William K. Guild
• Gerard Bringmann
• Thomas Jost
• Sheila Carpenter
• Matthew Kessler
• Owen Costello
• Sharon King Hoge
• Mark Epstein
• Trudy Mason
• Shirley Genn
• Edith Prentiss
• Randy Glucksman
• Larry Rubinstein
• Stuart Goldstein
• Michael Sinansky
• Ira Greenberg
• Burton Strauss, Jr.
• Toya Williford

The following members were absent:

• David Buchwald
• Rhonda Herman
• Richard Cataggio
• Marisol Halpern
• Francis T. Corcoran
• Maureen Michaels
• Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas
• Neal Zuckerman

In addition, the following persons were present:

• William Henderson  – PCAC Executive Director
• Ellyn Shannon  – PCAC Transportation Planner
• Karyl Berger   – PCAC Research Associate
• S. Leonard DeSimone – MTA BSC
• Hector Garcia  – LIRR
• Pete Donohue  – Daily News
• Theresa Juva  – amNY
• Debra Greif   – Concerned citizen
• Yvonne Morrow  – Concerned citizen
• Alan Flacks   – Concerned citizen
• Joseph Garber  – Concerned citizen
• Ken Stewart   – Concerned citizen

Approval of Agenda and Minutes

The agenda for the December 9, 2010 meeting was approved.  The minutes of the September 2, 2010 meeting were approved.

Chairs’ Reports

The PCAC, LIRRCC, MNRCC and NYCTRC Chairs’ Reports are attached to these minutes.

Christopher Greif, the newest member of the NYCTRC, introduced himself and then the members introduced themselves.

In her report about the LIRRCC, Maureen Michaels spoke about the need to fill three vacancies from Nassau County, her efforts to improve the council’s relationship with the LIRR, the effort to lobby Congress to extend the pre-tax transit benefit legislation, and the effort by Senator Gillibrand to funnel $3 billion of the Access to the Region’s Core (ARC) funding to the MTA.

Randy Glucksman reported on the Tappan Zee bridge project, noted that the West of Hudson MNR quiet cars have become quite popular.

Edith Prentiss said she has a problem with quiet cars as people with disabilities don’t have the same range of choices as to where they can choose to sit.

Andrew Albert reported that the NYCTRC held a press conference to release its report on emergency exit slam gate problems.  He reported the President’s Forum was like an MTA public hearing.  Mr. Albert noted that the Countdown Clocks were being installed in “A” division (numbered lines) stations.

Tom Jost asked if discounts for carpools were considered as part of the fare increase package for Bridges and Tunnels.  Bill Henderson noted that there is already a discount for carpooling on the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.  Mr. Albert said there was no specific talk about carpools but noted that the City is talking about congestion pricing again.

Ms. Mason noted that no one knows that the NYCTRC is the sponsor of the President’s Forum.  She said there should be a task force established to look at ways to increase the awareness of PCAC and its Councils.

Ms. Mason also reported that she requested to meet with President Prendergast about the M15 Select Bus Service.  She said that NYC Transit should not have   introduced a new service while the Second Avenue subway is under construction.

Ms. Mason emphasized that the SBS service has gotten worse and that the NYCTRC is taking additional action to address the situation.

Old Business

The members discussed ways to increase their outreach efforts.  Mr. Albert suggested that we ask NYC Transit for a car card.  Mr. Greenberg said he had talked to Paul Fleuranges about this subject, and Mr. Fleuranges indicated that they can’t do anything like that right now.

New Business

Debra Greif noted that NYC Transit’s ADA Compliance Coordination Committee does not provide minutes to its members and its staff is very condescending.  Chris Greif said he did not appreciate how the Committee staff responded to Karyl Berger at the last meeting.

Approval of 2010 PCAC Budget

The members approved the 2011 PCAC budget.

Introduction of S. Leonard DeSimone, President – MTA Business Service Center (BSC), to discuss the work of the BSC

A copy of Mr. DeSimone’s presentation is on file in the PCAC office.

Mr. DeSimone reported that the BSC has taken over 80 percent of the human resources (HR) functions throughout the MTA and that the other 20 percent of the HR functions will remain at the agency level.  He noted that the HR work is being done as a partnership.  He explained that once a job opening is posted, the BSC receives the resumes, the agency selects and interviews the candidates, selects a candidate to fill the job, and the BSC is responsible for getting the new employee set up.

Mr. DeSimone said that the BSC does all payroll processing within the MTA and its agencies, although the agencies are responsible for the time keeping functions.  The BSC is also doing a majority of the accounting work throughout the MTA.  He also noted that the BSC is host for the call centers for both internal and external clients.

Mr. Desimone said that the BSC is entering into Service Level Agreements with its internal clients to govern its performance in the relationships between them and the BSC.  He said that they are deploying the newest version of PeopleSoft throughout the MTA and that this single version of the software will go live in 23 days.  He noted that there is now one chart of accounts for the entire MTA.  He said that the chart of accounts was developed internally without the assistance of any outside consultants.

Mr. DeSimone said the goal is to create a paperless organization and to do everything electronically.  He said the agencies will have full access to the electronic documents.

Mr. DeSimone said he is working very closely with the operating agencies and noted that there are hundreds of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in the agencies.  He said the BSC has worked hard to standardize processes whenever possible and that their efforts have been reviewed by the Auditor General.

Mr. DeSimone noted that he expects there will be a 30 to 35 percent cost reduction and that the BSC will function as a matrix driven organization, drawing on resources from within the MTA and its agencies.  He said that there will be a 5.2 year payback of the startup costs of the BSC, with a resulting $25 to 30 million annual savings

Mr. DeSimone noted that in 2005 Booz Allen Hamilton was hired to do a study and recommended that it would be beneficial to undertake a shared services initiative throughout the MTA.  In 2007 Accenture was hired to figure out the best way to implement a shared services model.

Mr. DeSimone said that his team gathered lots of data to determine costs, look for efficiencies, and assess head count by specific function.  He said that they looked at all the legacy systems, of which there were hundreds, and that many of these systems have been shut down and replaced by PeopleSoft.  Mr. DeSimone said that his team created “swim lanes” and developed procedures for completing each type of process.  He said that BSC did not limit data collection to the areas that were initially within the BSC’s scope.  He said that the BSC’s promise is to provide equal or better service than that provided before the realignment at a lower cost.

Mr. DeSimone said they are constantly assessing the benefits of the BSC over five years, the return on investment, and the savings over twenty years.  He said they took the costs of providing certain services out of the agency budgets and transferred the responsibility for providing these services to the BSC.  He said that in order to accomplish this, the agencies had to make a commitment to work hand in hand with the BSC and noted that the agencies are starting to request that the BSC undertake more work.

In response to Sheila Carpenter’s question as to whether the BSC will take over the Mail and Ride function, Mr. DeSimone said the BSC does not do anything related to fares.

In response to Jim Blair’s question as to what kinds of things the agencies are asking of the BSC, Mr. DeSimone said that Bridges and Tunnels and MTA Headquarters are asking the BSC to take over their procurement function.  He said that they reduced the head count necessary for these functions by three as a result of this change.  He said that the BSC will also take over accounts receivable functions.  He said they will go live with these functions on January 21 to allow the agencies to get their 2010 books in order prior to BSC assuming these responsibilities.

Mr. DeSimone also indicated that the MTA Bus Company had asked for help with inventory records.   He said they converted the Bus Company’s three different systems into a single database.  He said everything the BSC does must be cost effective.

In response to Ms. Carpenter’s question as to the BSC’s specific accomplishments to this point, Mr. DeSimone reported that the BSC will have 416 employees.  He said that at this staffing level they were able to eliminate 637 positions from MTA and agency budgets, which is a 35 percent reduction in headcount.

In response to Stuart Goldstein’s questions as to why the projected savings have decreased from July to September and why there has been an increase in overhead expenses, Mr. DeSimone said he could not answer without seeing the specific numbers to which Mr. Goldstein was referring.  He asked that Mr. Goldstein send the information to him for his review.

Mr. DeSimone said that the core principle of BSC governance is that it does not make key decisions without involving its stakeholders.  He asserted that the agencies have an active involvement in the decision making process.

Mr. DeSimone indicated that the initial budget for the BSC was based on the Accenture report recommendations.  He said some positions were merely shifted to BSC, but sometimes these decisions were reversed as it became clear that maintaining certain functions outside the BSC was necessary to avoid complications.  He stated that the BSC has become the largest shared services operation in North America and that it took a year and a half to ensure that all the employees spoke the same language. Mr. DeSimone said that there are a large number of employees who are represented by a variety of unions and there are agreements with all of these labor organizations.

Mr. DeSimone said that his team looked how the agencies met their legal requirements and cited the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) as an example.  He said that each agency was implementing FMLA slightly differently, but they developed one method of processing cases under FMLA.  He said the agency resistance to these types of changes is slowly dissipating.  Mr. DeSimone said the payroll functions for all agencies except NYC Transit and MTA Bus will go live in January, 2011 with the other two agencies coming on line in 2012.

In response to Tom Jost’s inquiry whether all agencies’ employees receive the same benefits, Mr. DeSimone said that they do not but responded that standardizing benefits will help the MTA to move to one system.  Mr. DeSimone indicated that the BSC is doing accounting work for the Staten Island Railway now and will assume their payroll function next year and personnel functions at some time in the future.

In response to Chris Greif’s question as to what is the union’s position on the BSC, Mr. DeSimone said that they have reached agreements with all relevant unions and the last contract is going before the MTA Board this month.

Mr. DeSimone said they are slowly building the organization.  They have 114 positions now filled, plus consultants that are working for the BSC.  The consultants include 100 Accenture people in addition to staff from Diamond Consulting, which is doing quality assurance work.  The projected staffing level of the BSC has risen as it has taken on additional responsibilities, but this increase is less than the corresponding reduction in positions at the MTA agencies that results from the transfer of functions top the BSC.

In response to Edith Prentiss’ question whether the new hires are coming to BSC at comparable pay to their position with the MTA agencies, Mr. DeSimone said they posted every job and noted that some pay rates were lower than the rate that would have been posted by the agencies.  He said all job titles were reviewed through the Hay point system and there were no hires over the maximum level.  Mr. DeSimone said he approves every pay rate, and that some people who transferred from MTA agencies to the BSC took a pay cut as large as $20,000.

In response to Ms. Prentiss’ question whether people carried over their pension and other rights from their prior positions with the MTA agencies, Mr. DeSimone said that they did not in some cases.

Mr. Goldstein asked if the new hires for 2011 would be considered staff consolidation or external hires, Mr. DeSimone said that new personnel are all hired by BSC and that most of these individuals come from the MTA operating agencies, as was the case with the call centers.  He noted this hiring pattern was necessary because many of these individuals have the experience that was required for these positions.  He said they took seventeen people who were affected by the reduction of force at MTA Headquarters and the agencies.  He said the agencies tried to leave positions that were to be eliminated vacant and as a result only terminated 100 persons to reduce head count by over 200 positions.

In response to Ms. Mason’s questions whether they looked at laid off station booth agents as a group from which to hire and whether NYSLERS, NYCERS, and LIRR pension plans were able to be transferred to the BSC, Mr. DeSimone said that the BSC had posted all available jobs, but that he did not know whether any of the station booth agents had applied.   He said that they are not allowed to target specific people for any position and that he could not answer the question about the pension transferability until all labor agreements are finalized.  Ms. Mason asked that the PCAC be given information about the impact on pensions resulting from the move of employees to the BSC.

Mr. Goldstein asked if the 42 positions slated for the BSC Contact Center had been filled.  Mr. DeSimone said that they are fully staffed for 2011 but as Phase II starts up, other employees will be hired for the Contact Center.

Mr. DeSimone said he has been working closely with Diana Jones Ritter regarding the future needs of the BSC.  He said that the BSC is now doing the sourcing for IT needs across the MTA and well as doing background checks on all MTA vendors.  Mr DeSimone said that, looking to the future, he would like the BSC to be able to do background checks for external clients as well.

In response to Mr. Albert’s question as to whether Accenture has completed their work, Mr. DeSimone said that they are still working on Phase II and will be here until the eight weeks following the transition of functions to the BSC.  He said they will reduce consulting resources after the upcoming launch

In response to Mr. Sinansky’s question about payment of invoices and whether the BSC’s responsibility includes invoices for the MTA Capital Construction Company, Mr. DeSimone said BSC responsibilities include the Capital Construction Company accounts payable.

In addition, Mr. Sinansky asked Mr. DeSimone to elaborate about the BSC’s responsibilities with respect to auditing payments.  Mr. DeSimone said that the approval of payments takes place before invoices are submitted to the BSC and that the BSC process includes checks to ensure that payments have been approved as required.

Mr. DeSimone noted that the BSC is now located at 333 W. 34th Street.  In response to Ms. Mason’s question whether the BSC looked at using existing MTA office space, Mr. DeSimone acknowledged that they looked at existing spaces, but he noted it can be very expensive to restructure existing spaces   Ms. Mason requested that staff ask MTA Real Estate for a full explanation of the reason that the BSC moved into a new space rather than occupying existing empty space.


Respectfully submitted,

Karyl Berger
PCAC Research Associate