Press Release Article


PORT AUTHORITY BOARD TAKES ACTION TO DEVELOP BOLD, NEW INTEGRITY REFORMS

Date: Sep 28, 2017
Press Release Number: 175-2017

Board’s directive builds on agency reforms already undertaken since 2014; Initiates six critical measures to bolster ethical conduct throughout agency

  • A Code of Ethics for members of the Board of Commissioners
  • An update to the 2014 Code of Ethics and Financial Disclosure for employees
  • The codification of a rigorous Vendors Code
  • Best practices in ethics and compliance training for employees
  • Establishment of a false claims policy
  • Expediting search for new Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer

Continuing its comprehensive reform initiatives begun in 2014, the Port Authority Board of Commissioners today launched the development of initiatives that will systematically strengthen the Port Authority’s integrity program to help ensure ethical conduct at all levels of the agency.

At its meeting today, the Board directed the Executive Director to develop a rigorous Code of Ethics for members of the Board of Commissioners to be presented for adoption at the Port Authority’s October Board meeting.

In addition, the Board directed the Executive Director to develop other critical components of the integrity program and present them to Board members by November 10. In the absence of comments by the Board, the policies would become effective on December 10. The components to be developed by November 10 are:

  • An update to the 2014 Code of Ethics and Financial Disclosure for Port Authority employees to ensure that it meets with contemporary best practices and that it meets or exceeds the standards of other leading private and public sector organizations. The revised code of ethics for employees will provide a roadmap for employees on conflicts of interest, obligations to report wrongdoing, reinforce a zero tolerance policy on the receiving or giving of gifts and the duty to safeguard confidential information.
  • The codification of a rigorous Vendors Code that will generally hold those providing goods and services to the Port Authority to the same high integrity standards as commissioners and employees.

In addition to the codes of conduct, the Board directed the Executive Director to implement a reinvigorated ethics and integrity training program for employees, and to report on its status at the February 2018 meeting. Consistent with current best practices for ethics and compliance programs in the private and public sector. he training will:

  • Be tailored to allow individuals performing different tasks for the agency to receive specialized training based on the duties they perform.
  • Be interactive and make extensive use of information technology to ensure that employees are actively engaged and absorbing the lessons of the training materials.
  • Ensure that employees are aware of existing ethics resources, including the “whistleblower” policy, the “Voice of the Employee” hotline, the Designated Ethics Attorneys program, and various resources maintained by the Inspector General and Chief of Human Capital.
  • Be required of all new employees within the first 30 days of their Port Authority employment.

The Executive Director also was directed to develop a False Claims Policy to ensure that potential ethical misconduct is detected and stopped. Adoption of the policy will provide an added measure of protection against fraud, especially given the magnitude of some of the major capital projects the agency is undertaking in its 2017-2026 Capital Plan.

The Board also directed staff to expedite the search and hiring of an agency Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer, a position called for in Governor Cuomo and Governor Christie’s December 2014 report on the comprehensive overhaul of the agency’s governance. A nationwide search to fill the position, which will oversee compliance with the new Integrity Policy, has been under way.

“The unethical actions of a few individuals in recent years severely tarnished the public’s trust in this nearly 100-year-old institution and the fine men and women who have spent their lives working here,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “Given our mission to rebuild and maintain this region’s major transportation assets, it’s incumbent that we provide our employees with a best-in-class ethics code and rigorous training to build a culture of ethical conduct here that’s second to none.”

“The Governors have made it clear to this Board that nothing less than transformative change will be acceptable to restore this agency’s reputation as the region’s premier master builder,” said Port Authority Vice Chairman Jeffrey Lynford. “Since that time, we’ve made many thoughtful and substantive changes to increase transparency, refocus the authority on its core transportation mission and begin to provide guidance to employees on the ethical standards they are expected to follow. Today, we are taking the next step in formulating a rigorous policy that will govern ethical conduct in all aspects of this agency.”

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 the 1,776-foot-tall One World Trade Center 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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