City Manager announces review of CATS “organizational structure” & “leadership team” after WBTV Investigation

The memo from the city manager references the contractor that was the focus of the WBTV Investigation and will be part of the city’s evaluation.
Just three days after a WBTV Investigation revealed a private contractor was running Charlotte’s bus system, Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones released a memo
Published: Jul. 22, 2022 at 1:43 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Just three days after a WBTV Investigation revealed a private contractor was running Charlotte’s bus system, Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones released a memo to councilmembers announcing an evaluation of CATS “organizational structure and leadership team” was underway.

The July 17 memo from Jones also mentions the contractor from the WBTV Investigation, RATP Dev, several times and says they will be part of the review process. The city manager told council he directed his staff to prepare a “request for proposals” for the bus operations service contract currently held by RATP Dev.

A memo from Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones details the evaluation taking place on CATS bus...
A memo from Charlotte City Manager Marcus Jones details the evaluation taking place on CATS bus operations division.(WBTV)

WBTV brought details of the contract to light for the first time just days before the city manager’s memo. WBTV first filed a records request related to RATP Dev in May but answers and responses from the city have been slow to non-existsent.

The current contract between CATS and the contractor, RATP Dev, was approved by city council in February 2019.

RATP Dev operates a subsidiary called Transit Management of Charlotte, which oversees a slew of CATS operations, including routes, scheduling, fare analysis, employee selection and training, labor relations, safety and security, among other things.

Despite RATP’s massive role in running the city’s bus service, there is very little information about the company publicly available. Even during the current bus reliability and safety crisis, there were no mentions of the contractor during public meetings, until WBTV started filing records requests and asking questions of CATS leadership.

An analysis of the contract found the city likely renewed the contract earlier this year without any public discussion. There were also numerous requirements for contingency plans and performance metrics that have not been discussed publicly.

Additionally, an internal audit from 2021 found “CATS has not consistently followed established City policies for the procurement of goods and services.”

The audit mentions RATP Dev several times saying that the contractor and CATS were showing “resistance to complying with city-wide procurement policies, and lack of monitoring of actions taken by BOD contractor RATP Dev which are not coordinated with the City and continues to result in policy violations and increase risks to operations.”

The July 17 memo from Jones says the evaluation will also include a review of “procurement/contract oversight.” The initial findings could be reported to the city in August or September.

City councilmembers immediately started asking for more transparency from both CATS CEO John Lewis and RATP Dev after WBTV’s Investigation.

WBTV also revealed that tweets from CATS account listing driver absences were including workers out on FMLA, workers comp and even bereavement, in direct contradiction to what Lewis previously told councilmembers.

The memo from Jones says while some solutions might be simple, others would be complex and require further studies and financial investment. The contractor completing the evaluation, Management Partners, will recommend other areas needing further study.

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