High-speed rail planning group said to mismanage funds, lack oversight 

California’s proposed high-speed rail route risks scheduling delays because of inadequate planning, weak oversight and lax contract management, according to a new report from the state auditor.

The study chastises the California High-Speed Rail Authority on a number of financing areas, pointing out that the project has budgeted $17 billion to $19 billion in federal funds but so far has secured only $2.25 billion. The authority also plans to use $12 billion in federal and state funds by 2013, which is $7 billion more than what’s available, according to the report.

Along with the authority’s improper funding projections, the report highlights several administrative faults with the agency, including $4 million that was approved for regional contractors without any review by the executive director. The authority also lacks an updated system to track expenditures related to the $9.9 billion bond measure that was approved by voters in 2008, and many of its monthly progress reports contain inconsistent and inaccurate information, according to the study.

Carrie Pourvahidi, interim executive director of the authority, said her agency welcomed the oversight of the audit and was already implementing many of the proposed suggestions. Pourvahidi said the report also highlighted the need for additional staff members at the authority.

Slated to become fully operational in 2020, the proposed high-speed rail route is projected to carry passengers from Anaheim to San Francisco in a little more than 2½ hours.

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Will Reisman

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