Getting Back on Track
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority – SEPTA
Situation: Claims Losses Rising in a Legacy Environment
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), the sixth largest U.S. rapid transit system by ridership, operates busses, subways, commuter rails, elevated rails and electric trolleys, serving almost four million people in and around Pennsylvania and the U.S. SEPTA does not insure its liability risks, but rather runs a large, self-administered Claims and Legal department from its Office of General Counsel (OGC), to defend it in claims and litigation resulting from its operations.
In 2011, the General Counsel was asked to explore ways to improve and modernize the OGC to help lower costs, improve efficiencies and better integrate OGC into SEPTA’s broader operations. At the time, claims losses were the highest they had been for the past 10 years, and most cases were being settled rather than defended in court.
FTI Consulting was engaged to provide strategic advice on how to improve the OGC’s claims and litigation processes, and then to help implement the recommended changes in an environment in which the spirit of “we’ve always done it that way” had long-dominated the culture.
“I don’t think we’d be where we are today… without FTI Consulting’s help….I think we got an excellent return on our investment.“
Gino Benedetti, Septa General Counsel
FTI Consulting’s Role: Modernizing, Streamlining, Culture Change
FTI Consulting began by conducting a preliminary assessment and evaluation that included interviewing key stakeholders to identify strategic and operational issues at the OGC. Subsequently, FTI Consulting facilitated a strategic planning session that yielded a three-year plan to reengineer the OGC.
The plan called for realigning the department to eliminate duplication of effort by streamlining the intake and initial investigation of incidents. This required new guidelines and procedures, new technology, and a renewed effort to defend meritless claims while shifting the department’s overall culture toward greater accountability. To assist SEPTA and the OGC, FTI Consulting established an Office of Project Management that oversaw key elements of the strategic plan.
FTI Consulting integrated file and case management technologies while implementing a best practice process based framework, developing metrics and key performance indicators to measure success, look for trends, and help improve efficiency and effectiveness in the 110-person OGC division.
The implementation of the case management system, formalized procedures, and a new culture of quality and accountability helped create an environment in which claims now are resolved efficientlywhile still protecting SEPTA’s valuable municipal assets.
FTI Consulting’s assistance, along with an increase in video surveillance andchanges in the tort laws, have resulted in a reduction in claims payouts that saved SEPTA in excess of $20 million over a two-year period. Moreover, the implementation of new data retention rules and technologies permitted the deletion of over 100,000 files, resulting in storage and maintenance savings while improving operational efficiency, enabling SEPTA to track and measure all matters entering the OGC. This streamlining of labor and processes has allowed the agency effectively to eliminate the need for temporary workers, saving SEPTA over $800,000.
Finally, the more rigorous documentation practices, and the new best practice process-based framework, were critical to creating a more robust culture of accountability and efficiency at the OGC, helping to get SEPTA back on track.