Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on April 25th, 2007 at 12:18 pm
(Note: The title of this post was originally, "Benefits fraud may stymie progress on Bike Commuter Act." I changed it to better reflect the situation.).
I just got an email from Congressman Earl Blumenauer's legislative assistant Katie Drennan. She said that although there is considerable momentum for the Bike Commuter Act (42 co-sponsors so far), there's a situation brewing on the Hill that might cause a bump in the road.
Drennan pointed to an article in the Washington Post yesterday that details widespread fraud in the current transit benefits system. Here's an excerpt:
"The program, which covers 300,000 federal employees nationwide, has been abused by workers across a variety of agencies... Workers in the Washington region alone have defrauded the government of at least $17 million a year, with the actual figure probably several million dollars higher, according to the GAO."
According to the article, the most widespread problems were people selling their MetroChecks on eBay or craigslist for cash payments.
Drennan says her office is concerned about how this recent publicity might impact the Bike Commuter Act,
"...with news of the fraud coupled with the opaque nature of how bike benefits could be administered, we are worried that the bill will be the focus of increased scrutiny and ultimately members will be dissuaded from supporting it."
According to Drennan, questions have already arisen from staffers on the Hill about how exactly the bike commuter benefits would be administered. Up to this point, she says they've preferred to leave the specific rules up to the employer (much like transit benefits).
So what does all this mean? This bill needs our help.
Drennan needs suggestions of ways these benefits could be applied, as well as stories from folks who have employers who actually administer bike commuter benefits currently.
Here's how you can help:
- Please let us know what form your benefit comes in, how you use it, and the oversight mechanism is used to prevent abuse of the system.
- If you do not currently receive this, can you imagine an ideal system?
- We are looking for all ideas to start this conversation.
Please consider sharing your input in the comments below and forward this post to anyone you think could lend helpful insight.
Learn more about the Bike Commuter Act:
- Exclusive audio from Bike Commuter Act press conference in Washington D.C.
- A full report from the press conference
More info on bike commuter benefits:
- This topic recently came up on the Shift Email List.