MBTA Will Not Release Outside Report on Green Line Extension Problems

The agency says the report is a piece of legal advice.

Photo By Olga Khvan

Photo By Olga Khvan

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority is refusing to release an independent outside report on the cost overrun problems facing the Green Line extension through Somerville to Medford.

The Berkeley Research Group, an outside consulting group, verbally presented its findings to the MBTA’s Fiscal and Management Control Board on Monday, but declined to provide reporters with a physical copy of its report. Commonwealth magazine later reported that the MBTA is holding back the release of its report because the MBTA is planning on suing the contractors involved in the Green Line extension.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said in an email that the release of the report is to be determined while giving four reasons for withholding the report.

MBTA and MassDOT are still engaged in policy development;

The report is a draft.

The report is both attorney-client and attorney-work product privileged.

The document was created at the request of counsel, as a result of requests from the FMCB and MassDOT Board for legal assistance, in order to provide legal advice.

Pesaturo did not comment on the possibility of a lawsuit. MBTA Chief Administrator Brian Shortsleeve deferred to Pesaturo when asked about a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker said he was not familiar with the report, but said he would discuss the matter with the MBTA.

“Documents that are involved in any sort of legal activity for planning and legal purposes are in fact subject to confidentiality rules, which is not a bad policy,” said Baker.

Berkeley’s findings, as presented to the board, were scathing. The report concluded that the newly devised and untested procurement method failed the state at nearly at every turn. One member of the board, Brian Lang, concluded that the MBTA let White Skanska Kiewit, the company chosen to work on the construction, “work the system” and take advantage of the public agency.

One of the key problems Berkeley found with the MBTA’s procurement process for the Green Line extension is that it did not allow the agency to review the books or cap indirect costs. Of the first four contracts issued by the MBTA for the Green Line extension, only one came in under budget, while one came in nearly 86 percent over budget, and the overall cost for the project has ballooned far beyond initial estimates.