Metra Chairman Martin J. Oberman March 28 announced the appointment of board member Norman Carlson to chair the newly constituted board audit committee and to oversee the financial activities of the agency.
Carlson has more than 40 years of experience in railroad finance and spent the last 11 of his 34 years at Arthur Andersen as the worldwide managing partner of their transportation industry practice.
"Norm Carlson is eminently qualified to oversee Metra's financial operations and to provide the leadership the agency needs to restore public trust and confidence," said Oberman. "Metra and Metra’s riders are fortunate that a citizen of Norm’s impressive experience and expertise is willing to serve on Metra’s board. I am pleased he has accepted this important additional responsibility, and I know that, under his watch, critical checks and balances will be applied to our operations."
According to Oberman, the committee will provide accountability, enhance transparency, increase efficiencies and maximize the use of taxpayers' dollars.
One of Carlson's first tasks as chair of the audit committee will be to work with the new chief audit officer (CAO) to be hired by the board in the very near future. As part of its commitment to reform and modernizing Metra’s governance, the board, earlier this year voted to restructure the internal audit function by re-defining the position of CAO. One of the most important changes is that the CAO will now report to the full board and to the executive director, so the type of abuses that occurred in past years will no longer be able to escape scrutiny because board members are uninformed. In addition, the board will now operate as a committee-of-the-whole related to audit oversight to assure full and direct involvement in this crucial function, including oversight of the executive director, board expenses and Metra departments, including human resources and procurement.
Executive Director Don Orseno asserted that "the board's selection of Norm Carlson as chair of the Audit Committee and the creation of the CAO position are a reflection of Metra’s serious commitment to reform. I look forward to working with Norm and the committee to monitor and improve the agency."
Carlson was named as Lake County's representative on the Metra board of directors a year ago. At Arthur Andersen, he provided audit, income tax, and financial consulting services to regional, short line, and Class I railroads. He often works with organizations to find solutions to challenging financial situations.
"The Metra Audit Committee will provide crucial oversight of how Metra conducts its business," said Carlson. "Many practices at the railroad are outdated and in serious need of modernization. I'm glad to be able to utilize my experience to help Metra be the best-run commuter railroad in the country."