Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Investigations

Under the authority granted by California Public Utilities Code Section 28840-28845, the OIG investigates situations where fraud, waste, or abuse may have occurred regarding BART’s programs and operations, including contracted activities. The legislative intent is to encourage employees and citizens to report their observations of suspected fraud, waste, or abuse to the OIG.

This section includes:

Definitions of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse
Examples of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse
How to file a Fraud, Waste, and/or Abuse Complaint
Whistleblower Protection Information
Investigation Process Information
Where to Report Matters Other Than Fraud, Waste, or Abuse
Investigation Reports


Definitions of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

There are many examples of what can be classified as fraud, waste, or abuse, and the determination of whether an act is fraud, waste, or abuse depends on the facts and circumstances of each situation, including the severity of the issue. However, the definitions and examples below can help determine if a situation should be reported to the OIG. Fraud, waste, or abuse should be reported when it is committed by BART’s employees, contractors, consultants, or vendors.

California Government Code section 53087.6(f)(2) collectively defines “fraud, waste, or abuse” as “any activity by a local agency or employee that is undertaken in the performance of the employee’s official duties, including activities deemed to be outside the scope of his or her employment, that is in violation of any local, state, or federal law or regulation relating to corruption, malfeasance, bribery, theft of government property, fraudulent claims, fraud, coercion, conversion, malicious prosecution, misuse of government property, or willful omission to perform duty, is economically wasteful, or involves gross misconduct.” These activities also are also collectively referred to as “improper governmental activities.”

Individual definitions can generally be described as follows:

Waste: Waste involves using or expending resources carelessly, negligently, extravagantly, or to no purpose, whether intentional or not, to the detriment of BART. Waste includes incurring unnecessary costs as a result of inefficient or ineffective practices, systems, or internal controls and often results from inadequate oversight.

Abuse: Abuse is behavior that violates a policy or is deficient, improper, or excessive when compared with behavior that a prudent person would consider reasonable and necessary. It includes using something in a manner that is contrary to the natural or legal rules for its use or extravagant or excessive use that is the result of someone abusing their position or authority.

Fraud: Fraud is an act of using dishonesty as a tool for personal gain. It involves obtaining something of value for personal or financial gain or depriving others, or an organization, of something of value through intentional deceit, misrepresentation, or concealment of something that should have been disclosed. Fraud can occur through the spoken word or by an individual’s conduct and actions. Whether an act is, in fact, fraud is generally determined through the judicial or other adjudicative system. If the IG concludes that an act was likely fraud, the case will be referred to the appropriate law enforcement agency for further review and a determination if prosecution should occur.

The following graphic shows the continuum of fraud, waste, and abuse, based on severity of the act:

Waste Abuse Fraud Severity of Action


Examples of Fraud, Waste, and Abuse

Examples of fraud, waste, or abuse include, but are not limited to:

  • Making travel choices or procurement/vendor selections that are contrary to existing policies or are unnecessarily extravagant or expensive
  • Personal use of BART materials, equipment, and/or time
  • Working in a non-BART position while getting paid by BART for the same hours
  • Calling in sick when not actually sick
  • Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs during work hours
  • Creating unnecessary overtime
  • Altering/falsifying records or making false claims (e.g., travel claims, invoices)
  • Theft/embezzlement, including theft of time (e.g., claiming pay for time that wasn’t worked or not performing assigned work when on duty)
  • Conflicts of interest and ethics violations, such as using customer information for personal gain
  • False worker’s compensation claims
  • Inefficient procedures or management of resources (e.g., buying equipment that would be less expensive to rent, based on estimated usage; buying unnecessary materials or equipment; holding onto materials that could be returned, reused, or sold)
  • Misuse of authority (e.g., a supervisor asking staff to perform personal errands or tasks)
  • Misuse of position for personal gain (e.g., discussing future employment with a firm doing business with BART while having contract oversight responsibilities with that firm)
  • Gross mismanagement, such as circumventing BART policies and procedures
  • Gross neglect of duty
  • Intentional destruction, diversion, manipulation, misapplication, maltreatment, or misuse of BART resources
  • Substituting inferior products/materials or using counterfeit parts to reduce contract costs while increasing profit
  • Bid rigging or collusion
  • Receiving or giving kickbacks, bribes, or gratuities
  • Contractor overbilling (e.g., charging for more materials than were used or than the contracted price)
  • Falsification of certifications
  • Violations of laws, regulations, rules, policies and procedures, and provisions of contracts or grant agreements

File a Fraud, Waste, and/or Abuse Complaint

Anyone may file a complaint regarding allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse by BART employees or contractors doing business with BART. Anyone who files a complaint should have a reasonable belief that the allegation being reported is true and must provide sufficient detail concerning the allegation in order for the OIG to initiate an investigation.

We have multiple ways for you to report suspected fraud, waste, and abuse: 

  • Email: Download and fill out this Complaint Form and email it and supporting documentation to InspectorGeneral@bart.gov.
  • Phone: 510.464.6132 – You may also call us to file a complaint. Calling us provides an opportunity for us to ask you questions to ensure we have enough information to determine whether to open a case and begin an investigation.
  • Stop by our office – You may make an appointment to stop by our office to discuss your complaint with us. We may be able to tell you at that time if it is the type of complaint that falls under our authority and, if not, refer you to the appropriate office.

Calls and complaint forms are received directly into the Office of the Inspector General. Complainants may report issues anonymously; however, providing a name and contact information is encouraged so the OIG can contact the complainant if additional information is needed. The OIG is discreet and only discloses a complainant’s name if additional action on the matter is necessary, such as for criminal prosecution where the complainant may need to be called as a witness. Most matters will not require disclosure of the complainant’s name.


Whistleblower Protection

Individuals who report an improper activity by a District employee or contractor doing business with BART or who participate in an investigation of suspected ethics violations are protected from retaliation under California Labor Code Section 1102.5 and other California laws, as well as BART’s Whistleblower Policy.  Retaliation can come in many forms and be direct or subtle, such as demotion, job elimination, job or shift reassignment, denial of training opportunities, increasing or decreasing the employee’s workload, excluding the employee from team emails or meetings, or denial of future contract awards. Employees who believe they have been retaliated against may be able to file a claim with the California Department of Industrial Relations to seek injunctive relief under California Labor Code Section 98.7.


Investigation Process

The OIG reviews complaints received to determine if they fall within the definition of fraud, waste, or abuse and are related to BART activities and operations. We open an investigation if the complaint meets both requirements. The OIG directly investigates some complaints, may hire an outside investigator for others, or may refer complaints to the appropriate department to investigate, particularly if the allegation appears to be immaterial or insignificant from a monetary or operational standpoint. If an allegation appears to be criminal in nature, the OIG will coordinate the investigation with the appropriate law enforcement agency.

If an investigation is initiated, the investigator identifies potential witnesses, suspects, and relevant documents, data, and evidence and their sources. The investigator obtains sufficient, competent, and relevant evidence to provide a reasonable basis for the investigative findings and conclusions. The investigator analyzes the information and evidence obtained to objectively determine if the allegation has merit, documents the results of the analysis, and prepares a report of the findings. BART management will have an opportunity to respond to the OIG’s draft report of findings and recommendations and may be asked to provide additional information if they disagree with the findings and recommendations. At its discretion, the OIG may modify the report based on additional information provided by BART management, but the OIG’s finalized findings and recommendations will stand once the report is issued.

The OIG reports the results of individual complaints to the Board of Directors and the General Manager as investigations are completed and publishes summary reports on the OIG website.

Although the summary reports are available to the public, any investigatory filed compiled by the OIG is an investigatory filed compiled by a local law enforcement agency subject to disclosure pursuant to California Government Code Section 6254, subdivision (f). This means that confidential information, such as interview records and names of complainants, are not available to the public.


Where to Report Matters Other Than Fraud, Waste, or Abuse

The OIG responds to specific allegations of fraud, waste, or abuse by BART employees and those who do business with BART. We only investigate other improper activities or personnel issues if they have a component of fraud, waste, or abuse. Please review the definitions and examples of fraud, waste, and abuse above to determine if the OIG is the appropriate venue for reporting your complaint. Complaints that fall outside those definitions will be referred to the appropriate BART department or outside agency for review and resolution. For example, we do not investigate general management issues, such as a complaint from an employee who is simply dissatisfied with a supervisor, work assignment, or management decision. We also do not investigate personnel issues, such as performance ratings, suspensions, demotions, or grievances. For issues unrelated to fraud, waste, or abuse, we encourage you to contact the appropriate office listed on BART’s contact page.


Investigation Reports

Completed reports will be published here.

October 25, 2019: BART approved a fixture for the the M-line tunnel lighting upgrade that did not meet key contract specifications.