California High Speed Rail Authority

The California High Speed Rail Authority (“Authority”) was established in 1996 and is comprised of 9 board members whose job is to plan, construct and operate a high speed rail network for California.

The Authority has broad powers with limited restrictions to enable it to get the rail system built.  Three bare bones chapters in division 19.5 of the Public Utilities Code govern its operations.

Chapter 1 is a preamble with a couple of definitions
Chapter 2 defines the Authority as a board of 9 appointees and establishes the relationship between the board and its staff
Chapter 3 gives the Authority its powers and defines its purpose (the shalls and mays)

As of May 2013, the most recent Policies and Procedures ( Feb 2012) and Conflict of Interest Code ( not updated since Gray Davis era!).

Legislators approved AB 3034 in 2008, putting a $9.95 billion bond measure on the ballot for voter approval. California voters on November 4, 2008 passed Proposition 1A by a margin of 52.7% to 47.3% (proposition analysis and arguments and rebuttals).

The laws governing the bond act are found in Chapter 20 of Division 3 of the state Streets and Highway Code.

Article 1 provides important definitions
Article 2  gives the rules for using bond proceeds
Article 3  has rules  about the actual issuance of the bonds

In 2012, the California state legislature appropriated funds for the construction for phase one of the initial operating segment by enacting SB 1029.

A brief history of Board Policies and Procedures

June 2009 The Board discusses the need to clarify who is allowed to speak for the Authority. Chairman Kopp reminds the board that, The Chairman or Chairwoman responsibility beyond that of other Board members is to arrange Board meetings, to set up the agenda, to preside over the meetings as specified in the statute establishing the Authority back in 1996. No other privileges or rights are granted under the statute to whomever is Chairman or Chairwoman.”

July 2009 Amended policies are adopted minutes Barebones policies

January 2010 The need for new policies are discussed at a committee meeting, particularly as committees don’t actually exist under the then current board policies (draft policies that include process for A&E RFPs)

April 2010 A draft of the policies is presented  Memo from Deputy Attorney General George Spanos who told the Board to think carefully about how these policies would change the relationships between the Board, its members and staff and a reminder, “it is not individual Members who exercise the Board’s powers, but rather the Board as a collective body.”  He also suggested they update their very out of date Conflict of Interest policy (an action not taken as of May 2013). 

The new policies Committees are approved, “For the sake of clarity, all general delegations of authority to the Chief Executive Officer should be in the form of resolutions.”

May 2010 A tweak to include A&E contract policies and Conflict of Interest with the policies Board Resolution#10-019

June 2010 New policies are tweaked to require the Board to actually adopt their own Business Plans, in response to State Audit  concerns.

August 2011 Incorporated language for Engineering contracts

November 2011 A tweak to board compensation Board Resolution # 11-24 

February 2012 The Finance Committee becomes the Finance and Audit Committee Board Resolution #12-02

Delegation of Authority to CEO

August 5, 2010  CEO Delegation of Authority -BOARD POLICY – HSRA11‐001 – 2010

September 11, 2012 The Authority delegates the CEO the right to execute procurement contracts up to $5 million. A list of all contracts worth $10,000 or more is to presented to the Board “periodically”  Board Resolution #12-24  Memo


The first construction segment will be in the Central Valley, from approximately Fresno to Bakersfield.

For more details about the project, visit the California High-Speed  Rail Authority’s website.