Senate Passes Lanza's Bill to Increase Port Authority Accountabi​Lity

Andrew J. Lanza

March 15, 2012

 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
planning.”

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

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