OIG Says Amtrak Could do More to Hire Engineering Personnel, Including Managers

The Amtrak Office of Inspector General has issued a report created by its human resources department concluding the passenger carrier could do more to hire engineers, including engineering project managers, for infrastructure projects.

The report said Amtrak has sought to improve its hiring and retention of engineers but needs to hire 63 additional engineering personnel by Sept. 30 when the current federal fiscal year ends. Amtrak has 393 engineers across its system.

An influx of federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is providing Amtrak the opportunity to build, repair and restore its infrastructure.

Some of those Amtrak is seeking to hire need to have unique skills sets, such as knowledge of how to manage overhead catenary systems, the OIG report said.

To attract and keep engineering managers Amtrak has taken such steps as benchmarking management compensation with market rates; increasing salaries for field engineers; improving work-life balance practices; and offering one-time signing bonuses for employees who move into management.

Yet the OIG report said Amtrak has fallen behind on this process and could analyze workforce data to help it better assess its recruitment and retention efforts.

The OIG made three recommendations that Amtrak management has agreed to adopt. They include:

  • Establish formal compensation policies that define a schedule for regularly conducting analyses to identify whether the company is offering market-competitive salaries and communicate the policy to all relevant parties.
  •  Routinely analyze common workforce metrics, such as employee turnover and share the metrics with relevant departments through existing workforce management tools.
  • Use the common workforce metrics to assess the effectiveness of recent efforts to address compensation or work-life balance issues and determine whether further adjustments are needed.

The Amtrak human resources department, OIG report said, is “fully aware of the difficulties of recruiting and retaining skilled engineering managers in today’s labor market and has taken steps to address them.”

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