Magazine

Game Changers

The MBTA hasn’t been known for transparency. Brian Shortsleeve is changing that.

Not even a year into his job, the T’s chief administrator is opening up the transit authority’s books.

Boston, MA - 10/5/2015 - MBTA chief administrator Brian Shortsleeve speaks during the MBTA's fiscal control board meeting in Boston, MA, October 5, 2015. (Keith Bedford/Globe Staff)

Keith Bedford/Globe staff/file

Brian Shortsleeve says he aims to push out information “about every element of our performance.”

No news is not always good news. Just ask riders and taxpayers who support the MBTA. Years of less-than-forthcoming reports about the transit authority’s finances merely clouded the reality that money problems were piling up.

Enter Brian Shortsleeve. Appointed last summer by Governor Charlie Baker as chief administrator of the T, Shortsleeve is now publishing monthly financial reports, conducting weekly updates with reporters, and disclosing hundreds of pages of detailed analysis.

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“A commitment to real, extreme transparency has been a part of what we’ve done since July,’’ says 43-year-old Shortsleeve, whose time as a venture capitalist and Bain & Co. consultant surely did not prime him for public scrutiny. Now, he aims to push out information “about every element of our performance. I think we owe it to the riders. We owe it to the Legislature and the governor.”

While working to tame expenses in the T’s $2 billion budget for next year, Shortsleeve has overseen a decrease in the authority’s projected deficit for fiscal 2017 from $242 million to $80 million.

Shortsleeve has promised more rigorous audits after a key element of the T’s annual report was found to have been omitted since 2008. Shortsleeve has also pressed for a public conversation about the future design of the $1.6 billion MBTA pension fund, which he calls “one of the fastest-growing elements of our expenses.”

Beth Healy is a Globe staff writer. Send comments to magazine@globe.com.
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