Press Release Article


PORT AUTHORITY BOARD CONTINUES REFORM INITIATIVES BY DIRECTING PREPARATION OF REVISED FOI POLICY

Date: Sep 17, 2014
Press Release Number: 187-2014

In its continuing reform efforts, the Port Authority's Board today directed the preparation of a revised Freedom of Information policy to improve the flow of information to the public.

At the suggestion of Port Authority Chairman John Degnan, the Board's Special Oversight Committee recommended to the full Board that it direct the Board Secretary, in consultation with the General Counsel, to develop a new Freedom of Information policy for consideration at its October 22nd meeting. The new policy would provide for the disclosure of Port Authority records to the same extent that comparable records would be disclosed in either of the states of New York and New Jersey. Additionally, the new policy will include a two-tiered appeals process to allow anyone denied a record to appeal that decision to an agency review board and then to an independent, third-party arbitrator.

"While our current FOI policy provides the public with access to certain Port Authority records, it's clear we must do more," said Port Authority Chairman Degnan. "The public should have the right to obtain Port Authority records in a timely fashion if those records would be available from government agencies in either New York or New Jersey, and to invoke a straightforward appeal process for resolving disputes regarding the availability of particular records. Our new FOI policy will address both of these important issues."

"As an agency that represents the states of New York and New Jersey, the Port Authority should have the best practices of both states when it comes to Freedom of Information," said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. "The changes that we are making to our FOI process is another step forward as we continue to reform this bistate agency into a more open and transparent Port Authority."

The move to strengthen the FOI policy follows another significant change made last week, when the Port Authority released its agenda and accompanying resolutions for today's Board meeting for public review nearly a week in advance. Previously, the agenda was not made available until the afternoon before the meeting, and it did not contain the accompanying resolutions.

In February, the Port Authority established the Special Oversight Committee, to provide the Board with guidance and recommendations on governance and operational items.

Since the Committee's formation, the Board has taken the following actions:

  • Replaced the "consent calendar" method of voting with individual roll call votes in public session.
  • Significantly increased the amount of board and committee meetings held in public session. The Board of Commissioners has held the largest percentage of its meetings in public session in four years and public meetings have increased 42 percent this year when compared to last year.
  • Established a special email address, reform@PANYNJ.gov, to which members of the public can submit recommendations to the Port Authority. The public has already submitted over 100 comments to that address, which were reported to the bi-state Special Panel on the Future of the Port Authority. The Committee will continue to monitor those suggestions in the upcoming months.
  • Restructured the board room to provide the public with greater access and visibility to the Board of Commissioners and the Executive and Deputy Executive Director.

CONTACT:
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
212-435-7777

Founded in 1921, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey builds, operates, and maintains many of the most important transportation and trade infrastructure assets in the country. The agency's network of aviation, ground, rail, and seaport facilities is among the busiest in the country, supports more than 550,000 regional jobs, and generates more than $23 billion in annual wages and $80 billion in annual economic activity. The Port Authority also owns and manages the 16-acre World Trade Center site, where construction crews are building the iconic One World Trade Center, which is now the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere. The Port Authority receives no tax revenue from either the State of New York or New Jersey or from the City of New York. The agency raises the necessary funds for the improvement, construction or acquisition of its facilities primarily on its own credit. For more information, please visit http://www.panynj.gov.


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