Press Release Article


PORT AUTHORITY BOARD CONTINUES REFORM INITIATIVES TO ENHANCE TRANSPARENCY AND GOVERNANCE PRACTICES

Date: Oct 22, 2014
Press Release Number: 220-2014

Revised Agency Freedom of Information Policy to Take Effect on January 1, 2015;
Board Begins Process to Revamp Ethics Code, Initiate Employee Reporting System

The Port Authority Board of Commissioners today continued its ongoing reform initiatives by approving a new Freedom of Information policy that will take effect on January 1. The revised policy will provide the public with an enhanced ability to obtain agency records and a two-tiered appeals process in the event a request for a document is denied.

The new policy provides for the disclosure of Port Authority records to the same extent that comparable records are disclosed in either New York or New Jersey. The new policy also includes 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, binding third-party arbitrator.

In addition to the new FOI policy, Board Chairman John Degnan directed the agency's Chief of Human Capital to evaluate creating a "Voice of the Employee" system that will allow any employee to report to a third-party service any apparent conflict of interest or inappropriate conduct within the agency. The third-party service would ensure confidentiality for the employee and refer the matter to the senior leadership of the agency, or the Board of Commissioners, as appropriate. This proposal will be addressed at the Board's February 2015 meeting.

Chairman Degnan also directed the agency's General Counsel, with the assistance of the agency's Inspector General, Chief of Human Capital and Board Secretary, to establish a working group to prepare an updated Port Authority Code of Ethics. The revision will integrate the current codes of ethics, and related internal rules and regulations into a single Code that will be considered by the Board at its February 2015 meeting.

"For us to maintain our standing as a leader in addressing the transportation needs of this region, we must hold ourselves to the highest standards of transparency and ethical conduct in everything we do," said Port Authority Chairman John Degnan. "These steps are part of our continuing effort to ensure that we both honor that commitment and provide clear guidance and support to our employees as they apply these standards in their daily work."

"The Port Authority's most valuable asset is its 7,000 employees that work day and night to help keep this region moving. Their support is essential for this organization to continue to carry out its mission and the new Voice of the Employee system will help them do just that," said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. "The Port Authority must once again become the leader that it was envisioned to be nearly 100 years ago and these initiatives are another step to reshaping this organization into one that this region deserves."

The most recent initiatives are part of an ongoing series of actions taken by the Port Authority's Board in 2014, beginning with the establishment of its Special Oversight Committee in February.

Since then, the Board has taken the following actions:

  • Restructuring the Board process to have the Board agenda posted three days in advance of the meeting; restructuring the Board meeting to consolidate all of the public committee and main board sessions together; realigning the seating in the Board room so the public can participate more directly; and placing "public audience" earlier in each Board meeting agenda to give members of the public an opportunity to address issues prior to the Board's voting on them.
  • Replaced the "consent calendar" method of voting with individual roll call votes in public session.
  • Significantly increased the number 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.

CONTACT:
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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