D.C. Metro Spent $500,000 Maintaining a Self-Cleaning Toilet That Hasn’t Flushed Since 2017

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The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority—Metro for short—can barely run its train system. You’d think keeping its toilets operational would be an easier task.

You’d be wrong, according to a new semi-annual report from Metro’s Office of Inspector General, which found that between 2003 and 2017, Metro spent $416,789.32 maintaining a toilet that hasn’t flushed since 2017. The report notes that the $416,789 figure is likely an underestimate, as Metro staff were unable to provide investigators with maintenance invoices for 2007, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

“Based on spending from the previous years, it is probable that [Metro] spent over $500,000 on the self-cleaning toilet that has been out of service since the fall of 2017,” reads the report.

This was not the only instance of waste listed in the report. Metro also spent $35,755 on two special silt-filtering pumps for use in its drainage pumping stations. The hope was that these new pumps would reduce the need to hire outside contractors to remove silt from the stations. However, after one of the pumps failed an initial test, a supervisor “had the pumps stored at two different underground locations.” The reports says that Metro “personnel did not consult the manufacturer to troubleshoot or repair them. Both pumps have remained in storage for the past four years—one still in its original packaging.”

The report also says that, during the solicitation process for a $44 million contract, a Metro employee was using a personal Gmail account to provide a vendor seeking that contract with “sensitive and confidential” information. The OIG’s investigation into the matter is ongoing.

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