The subpoena comes several weeks after Mary Kay Langan-Fierson, assistant inspector general for acquisition and procurement audits, notified U.S. DOT officials that her office was opening an audit into oversight of federal grant usage within the Seattle Department of Transportation after receiving “several complaints concerning federally funded projects for the City of Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) that are subject to DOT’s oversight.” In her announcement, she made no mention of the criminal inquiry. The existence of the audit was first reported by The Seattle Times.
The specific wording or nature of the complaints that triggered the audit and criminal inquiry has not been released publicly. Seattle has as of yet not been found of any wrongdoing.
SDOT receives federal funding both directly from the U.S. DOT and also by way of the Washington state Department of Transportation (WSDOT), which may receive federal dollars and in turn reward them to SDOT.
“Given the significant amount of departmental funds allocated to State and local governments for transportation-related projects and that we have not conducted an audit of the flow of DOT funds to SDOT or WSDOT, we are initiating this review,” Langan-Fierson said in the Nov. 25 memo announcing the audit. “Our objective for this self-initiated audit is to assess the Department’s oversight of Federal funds received by SDOT.”
A spokesperson for SDOT did not respond to a request for comment sent Friday. A voicemail left Friday at the U.S. DOT’s inspector general office in San Francisco was not immediately returned. Special Agent Foster also did not respond to an email seeking comment.
A number of Seattle projects have received federal funding in the past, including the Lander Street overpass and past sections of the city’s streetcar. For many projects, including the new downtown streetcar that’s slated to be built, federal funding is key to their completion.