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In October, Metro announced that it’d hired consulting giants McKinsey & Company and Ernst & Young to conduct a total review of its operations and finances. They paid the companies $2.87 million for a contract, the results of which are starting to appear: As WAMU reported this week, McKinsey’s study finds there is “no silver bullet” for improving Metro’s reliability.

But publicly available solicitation documents on Metro’s website show that the agency has brought on another firm for strategic advice—in this instance, at the cost of $1.74 million. On Jan. 22, Metro signed a contract with legal company Jones Day, which, based on a prior request for proposals, will serve as an advisor to the transit agency’s General Manager and CEO Paul Wiedefeld. According to a summary in the RFP, “the advisor shall provide expertise and advice regarding organizational restructure and realignment initiatives, financial and operational business processes, change management, crisis management, and public relations management.” It will also advise a task force of board members.

“McKinsey was asked to conduct a top-to-bottom review of the Authority to provide information about WMATA’s current condition for the Board and new GM to consider, e.g. safety, bus/rail operations and financial systems,” Metro spokesperson Dan Stessel explains in an email to City Desk. “Jones Day will work with the Board and GM on next steps, I.e. strategic advice to the Board regarding fiduciary and policy matters (the specifics are to be determined).”

An amendment to the RFP filed in November helps clarify why Metro chose a law firm: It states the contractor will also provide “strategic (or business) advice that may relate to litigation,” but “will not represent the Authority in litigation.” The document outlines that Jones Day won’t have much overlap with the retained consultants: They “will be balancing one another to achieve the desired outcomes as defined. WMATA will not have the same Contractor do both pieces of work, as there is a need for interdependency along with a formal check and balance between both Contractors.”

Finally, if the provisions of the RFP made their way into the final contract, Jones Day would be responsible for producing “a comprehensive public report” that Wiedefeld, the task force, and the larger board must approve. It will include:

  • “Key objectives for WMATA’s financial restructuring and operational revitalization
  • Comparison of WMATA with other transit systems on various performance and operation metrics (e.g. accidents, on-time performance, railcar maintenance, pensions, collective bargaining and labor cost, insurance, internal compliance, and legal policies)
  • Proposal to revitalize WMATA operations and restructure WMATA finances
  • High-level overview of a transition plan
  • Calendar of events, public meetings, and contract information for coordinating next steps.”

A draft of such a report—according to the original RFP—is due to Metro’s board “on the 90th day after contractor begins work.” And it will serve a public-relations purpose, too: “With approval and participation by the GM/CEO, the report should be taken on a ‘road show’ and be presented to creditors and other stakeholders, and the general public.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery