Legislation Seeks To Reform Organizational Deficiencies

    The New York State Senate today passed legislation to ensure the
    proper functioning of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey as an
    open, transparent and accountable interstate authority. The bill (S.5878)
    is named the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Transparency and
    Accountability Act and is sponsored by Senator Andrew Lanza (R-I, Staten
    Island). The Act is part of a bipartisan, bi-state effort designed to
    create a new system of accountability at the Port Authority.

          “With passage of this legislation in the New York Senate, we are one
    step closer to bringing urgently needed reforms to the Port Authority
    requiring more open, transparent and accountable operations,” said Senator
    Andrew Lanza.

           “The Port Authority is in desperate need of reform so that the New
    Yorkers who depend on the services it provides can be assured that it is
    operating in a proper and fiscally responsible way,” Senate Majority Leader
    Dean G. Skelos said. “This bill would help reduce unnecessary costs and
    achieve the transparency and accountability that the Authority obviously
    needs and that the public rightly deserves.”

         A  scathing  preliminary  audit report issued by the Port Authority’s
    consulting  firm  last  month  found  the Authority to be a “challenged and
    dysfunctional   organization  suffering  from  poorly  coordinated  capital
    planning,  insufficient  cost  controls,  and  a  lack  of  transparent and
    effective  oversight.”  The audit confirmed that the agency is in need of a
    complete top to bottom organizational redesign, however, laws governing the
    bi-state  agency  do  not  take  effect  until New Jersey and New York have
    enacted substantively identical legislation.

           The legislation would:
      ·    Require an independent auditing of the Port Authority;
      ·    Lay out specific requirements for open public meetings and
         publication of minutes of meetings of the Board of Commissioners;
      ·    Establish specific requirements for public hearings to be held in the
         port district of New York and New Jersey to discuss any proposed
      ·    fee, toll, charge, or fare increase;
      ·    Establish Audit, Finance and Governance Committees;
      ·    Require financial disclosures and training for Commissioners and
         certification of those disclosures by the Chairman, Vice-Chairman of
         the Board of Commissioners of the Port Authority and the Executive
         Director, Deputy Executive Director, and the Chief Financial Officer
         of the Port Authority; and
      ·    Create a fiduciary responsibility for Commissioners.

         “The Port Authority is in need of a complete top to bottom
    organizational redesign which is precisely what the legislation that myself
    and Assemblyman Cusick, together with our New Jersey counterparts, have put
    forth in our respective Legislatures,” said Lanza. “This measure is
    necessary in order to rein in the waste and abuse that have gone unchecked
    for far too long. Toll payers shouldn't be forced to suffer for the Port
    Authority's lack of oversight, insufficient cost controls and poor capital

         The bill will be sent to the Assembly. It is also expected to pass in
    the New Jersey Legislature this week.